It's a situation dads and male caregivers still find themselves in frequently.
You're out in public or a restaurant with a baby or small child. Inevitably, that child soils itself (probably the moment your food arrives, because babies have a real knack for timing), but when you get to the men's bathroom to change the child's diaper ... there's nowhere to do it.
Often, there aren't diaper-changing tables in men's public bathrooms, leaving dads and caregivers with little options other than going into the women's bathroom with their babies, finding a quiet corner to change them out in the open, or changing them on the floor.
And father-of-two Chris Webb, who had to change his 14-month-old son in the women's bathroom of a Tim Hortons last week, has had enough.
Hey @TimHortons as you provide no other way to talk... I'm shocked and humiliated to have had to use the women's bathroom to change my child in one of your restaurants today. Your staff actually went out of their way to allow me to use it, but it's 2018 and both bathrooms should— Chris Webb (@Crippit) August 3, 2018
Have a change table in them. Getting out the house with my 1 year old and going for lunch shouldn't mean that I have to explain myself to women as to why I'm in the women's bathroom. Brining this up to the supervisor in the restaurant I was told "it's ok the women don't mind"— Chris Webb (@Crippit) August 3, 2018
In a series of tweets to Tim Hortons, Webb said he was "shocked and humiliated" that he had to use the women's bathroom to change his son's diaper in a Montreal-area restaurant. He noted that the staff "went out of their way" to let him use the bathroom, but added that in 2018, both bathrooms should be equipped for changing diapers.
"Getting out the house with my 1 year old and going for lunch shouldn't mean that I have to explain myself to women as to why I'm in the women's bathroom. Bringing this up to the supervisor in the restaurant I was told 'it's ok the women don't mind'," Webb said on Twitter on August 3.
Meet Chris Webb and his son, Owen. This dad says it's 2018, and it's time for diaper changing tables to be in men's washrooms too. pic.twitter.com/ISvVuTeV2m— Jaela Bernstien (@jbernstien) August 6, 2018
In an interview with CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Webb — who lives in Pincourt, Que. — explained that he'd taken his son Owen out for lunch while his wife was getting a haircut. When Owen needed his diaper changed and Webb realized there were no change tables in the men's bathroom, a supervisor suggested he use the women's bathroom, Webb said.
A woman who walked in while Webb was in there seemed startled to see him, and asked if he was in the wrong bathroom before walking into the stall next to his, then leaving, Webb said.
"Then she turned around and left. She clearly felt awkward," Webb said. "As we left, the lady was outside. I apologized. She said, 'It's OK, I have children too.'"
Tim Hortons will roll out change tables in men's bathroom across Canada
Tim Hortons released a statement on Monday explaining its new restaurant layout will include change tables in the men's bathroom.
Constructive conversation with @TimHortons this afternoon. All restaurants across Canada are being refurbished and change tables are being installed where possible. I made a lot of suggestions including staff training, signs in the mens washroom inviting them to speak to an— Chris Webb (@Crippit) August 6, 2018
Employee to use the womens and the women's door having a sign saying dad inside. Lots of room for improvement.— Chris Webb (@Crippit) August 6, 2018
"Obviously as a family brand, we need to make accessible changing tables available for all of our guests. This is now standard in our new restaurant design that is rolling out across Canada," the statement to CBC News says.
Tim Hortons contacted Webb on Monday, CBC News reported, and explained that existing franchises across Canada will also be refurbished over the next few years to add change tables in men's bathrooms (when space allows).
Parents are speaking out about the need
The move comes as more and more parents are speaking out about the need for changing tables in both bathrooms. There are at least six online petitions in Canada, according to a 2016 Maclean's article.
Actor Ashton Kutcher brought attention to the issue in 2015, when he started a online petition asking Target and Costco to "provide universally accessible changing tables in their stores." His Facebook post about the lack of changing table's in men's bathrooms went viral.
In January, a Calgary man made headlines after complaining about the lack of options for dads at his local Dairy Queen. Brian Aasen, who was out with his two-year-old daughter, was told he could either change her diaper on the men's bathroom floor, or take her out to his car, he told Global News.
"The choice was either... (the) men's bathroom floor or -30 C outside in the car," Aasen said. "I'm going to a family establishment with my daughter on a daddy daughter time, so why can't I have a place to change my kid's diaper that's safe and clean. I don't think that's too much to ask."
London, Ont. dad Frank Emanuele previously told HuffPost Canada that he believes it's just not something on a lot of business owners' radars. He was part of a petition to see more family-friendly businesses install change tables in men's bathrooms.
"It's a very traditional view of parenting — that moms are the ones who get up and change diapers. Moms are the ones that take care of these things. But that's changing. Now a lot of the dads are getting up and doing the changing," Emanuele said.
Webb's tweets last week got a lot of parents talking about the problem, with men and women both sympathizing.
Hey that happened to me too! I was shocked. I thought I must have found the only @TimHortons in Canada without a mens room change table. I guess not. I remember feeling bad for monopolizing the women's room as well!— Luke McPherson (@lukemteacher) August 3, 2018
Dads change babies too. Just because some @TimHortons employees think women don't mind having them in the ladies'room doesn't make that so. I'm fine w/ it but I know others who would be uncomfortable. #yayfordadsonbabyduty #changetablesformen— ñåñ¢¥ Mïñï¢ðzzï ☕️ (@CoffeeNancy) August 3, 2018
Had the same experience @Wendys not too long ago. Dads change plenty of diapers.— Brian Reynolds (@iReyn) August 4, 2018
@TimHortons Seriously? No support for us solo dads? I just checked my calendar - 1950 wants its gender roles back.— James Petersen (@EduCoder) August 5, 2018
Yes agree! I often have to xhange them on the floor.— Jonathan So (@MrSoclassroom) August 3, 2018
Restaurants aren't required to have change tables
As many parents have come to realize when they attempt eating in a restaurant with their babies in tow, there is no legislation in any province that requires change tables — in either men's or women's washrooms — in businesses, according to the Globe and Mail. Restaurants Canada told Global News in January that it's a customer courtesy, and voluntary, but that the tide is changing.
"There's an education and an awareness opportunity here in terms of creating more inclusive environments in all public places," Joyce Reynolds of Restaurants Canada told Global News. "If more and more customers are asking for something, you'll find the restaurants will provide it."
Just to clarify some points regarding my trip to @TimHortons my son had toast and peanut butter... pretty healthy... We walked there, no trunk to use to change him in... I'll keep going in the women's washroom if I have to, but I shouldn't have to... It's 2018— Chris Webb (@Crippit) August 7, 2018
In Ontario, all establishments built in 2015 and onwards require a change table in family washrooms. And in 2016, former U.S. President Barack Obama signed the BABIES Act, requiring diaper change stations in every bathroom in a public building, including men's bathrooms.
"I'll keep going in the women's washroom if I have to," Webb wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
"But I shouldn't have to ... It's 2018."
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