The Liberal government is committing to making menstrual products free in federally-regulated workplaces.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Patty Hajdu, released a notice outlining a 60-day consultation period to seek feedback on the proposal.
The federal government says that while employers are required to provide supplies such as soap, warm water, and a way to dry hands, free menstrual products are overlooked as necessities in washrooms.
Menstrual products are essential to the health of 40% of the federal workforce yet are not treated a basic need. It is time for that to change. We’re consulting Canadians on how best to provide free menstrual products. Share your input: https://t.co/9qDVOmWqXf pic.twitter.com/IF1rz0zoR4
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) May 6, 2019
“No requirements are currently in place to require employers to provide menstrual products,” reads the notice.
“As a result, a large number of employees are required to carry a basic supply of menstrual products with them.”
The notice outlines the importance of making menstrual products accessible in the workplace.
“When employees find themselves without access to menstrual products, they may turn to unsuitable improvised solutions such as using toilet paper and paper towels to act in place of tampons and pads.”
“Others may extend the use of products beyond their recommended time frame, which poses a health hazard due to the increased risk of toxic shock syndrome. Some employees may also avoid the workplace due to the shame and stigma that often surrounds menstruation.”
The government says that approximately 40% of the federal workforce could benefit from these new measures. Federally-regulated workplaces include banks, Crown corporations, airports and railways.
The order takes effect immediately but will allow districts until the end of 2019 to comply.
The provincial government will contribute $300,000 to the cause with startup finding.
The movement for free and accessible period products has been growing in Canada over the past several years.
The NDP brought forward a motion calling for the tampon tax to be removed in Canada in 2015, and it was unanimously passed in the House of Commons.
Canadian post-secondary schools like Centennial College in Toronto have joined in on the Free the Tampon initiative, which works to provide free feminine hygiene and menstrual products in women’s washrooms at no cost.
In the spring of 2018, Centennial College announced that all dispensers on campus would provide free menstrual products.
Centennial was one of the first Canadian institutions to make menstrual products free for women and schools in Halifax, Calgary, and Montreal have followed suit.
In Vancouver, YVR announced in January 2018, that tampons and sanitary pads would be available for free at any information desk at the airport.
In April 2019, the Government of British Columbia announced that all schools in the province would provide free menstrual products to students.