January 15, 2019 6:33 pm
Updated: January 22, 2019 7:35 pm

Alberta mom frustrated her breastfeeding infant needed paid ticket for show

WATCH: A Calgary woman is frustrated over a ticket policy preventing her from bringing her baby to a show. She's been told for her infant to attend, she will have to pay a full price fare. Kim Smith has more on the policy and takes a look at the rules at other major venues.

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LISTEN ABOVE: We ask a professor with the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia whether the rule is discriminatory. 

A Calgary woman is frustrated over a policy that restricted her from bringing her breastfeeding baby to a show at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, without buying the infant a ticket.

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Dominique Vankilevich’s son is three months old and refuses to take a bottle. She had planned on going to a show called The Illusionists with a group of about 10 family members and was going to leave her baby at home with her husband.

However, the show neared and her son continued to refuse a bottle.

“I wanted to check into their policy because I know some venues don’t allow kids, which is completely fine,” Vankilevich said.

She quickly learned everyone — regardless of their age and regardless of the show — must have a ticket. The cheapest ticket that remained available was about $90.

“I asked, ‘I’m not expected to purchase a ticket for my three-month-old, am I?’ He’s just coming because he can’t take a bottle, so I have to breastfeed and he’s obviously not going to be watching the show,” she said.

“I understand if there’s safety regulations, that’s fine. But maybe he just needs to be on a list that he’s a body in the building.”

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Scott McTavish, acting general manager of the Jubilee Auditoria of Alberta, provided Global News with a statement.

“For public safety, all patrons of the Alberta Jubilee Auditoria (Edmonton and Calgary) need a ticket to attend performances to ensure that the theatres are not over capacity and helps account for all patrons in the event of an emergency. The Jubilee does not set ticket prices. Ticket prices are set by show promoters. Many other performance venues have similar practices.”

Vankilevich said she ended up giving her ticket away.

“I don’t think kids need to be allowed at every single venue. But I’ve never heard of a family friendly venue where a three-month-old had to purchase a ticket,” Vankilevich said.

“I don’t know anyone that would purchase a ticket for the infant to attend.”

What about other Canadian venues?

NHL arenas allow kids under the age of two (or in some cases, under a certain height) to attend for free, as long as they sit on a lap. The same applies for most CFL stadiums and movie theatres.

The policies around performance venues is mixed, but most offer free tickets for infants.

The Sony Centre in Toronto allows babies under the age of one to enter for free, by first obtaining a “babes-in-arms” pass, which is issued in person on the day of the event.

In Montreal, at Place des Arts, children under the age of two are permitted to sit on a lap free of charge, unless the show’s producer decides otherwise. Free tickets for babies are available at the box office.

At Vancouver Civic Theatres “all audience members, including children, must have a ticket. There are no exemptions to this policy regardless of the child’s age.” However, shows can provide complementary tickets. For example, Ballet BC, which performs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, has their own policy where children under two qualify for a free ticket through Ballet BC’s Audience Services.

At the Playhouse in Fredericton, children under two can attend shows geared at kids for free, if they sit on a lap.

The Alberta Jubilee Auditoria do not offer free tickets for babies.

Human rights issue?

Preventing a woman from bringing her breastfeeding infant to a show could be grounds for discrimination on the basis of sex, argues Margot Young, a professor with the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.

The Human Rights Code provides in every province that discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited in relation to services or facilities customarily available to the public, Young said.

Discrimination is prohibited up to the point where accommodation of that condition, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding, would occasion undue hardship.

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“It is simply absurd to think that there’s any rational argument that ticketing a three-month-old for free, given that that baby will sit on the mother’s lap, would constitute any hardships for the facility,” she said.

“Given as well the central civic role that this institution plays, and the fact that it’s a provincial government owned and operated facility, it seems all the more astonishing that its management would have these kinds of rules that are insensitive to the dictates of human rights law.”

Two years ago, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission became involved in a case where NHL fans were told they would have to pay for a seat for their babies to attend the Heritage Classic in Winnipeg. The NHL reversed its policy in advance of the game.


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