In a public announcement today, it was revealed that a new Canadian government proposal seeks to make tampons and pads free for some Canadian workers. The proposal was announced this afternoon in a formal notice of intent from Employment and Social Development Canada.
If this new rule comes into effect, it will require employers in federally regulated workplaces to include menstrual products on the list of hygiene items that workplaces are required to provide, free of charge. Currently, this list includes toilet paper, soap, warm water, and a way of drying your hands.
As previously stated, this proposal will only apply to federally regulated workplaces. These include postal workers, banks, transportation workers like at train stations and airports, radio and TV broadcasting, and the majority of Canadian crown corporations, among others.
Currently, this represents around 1.2 million workers in Canada. The notice from the government says that of that 1.2 million, 40% of them are in need of menstrual products. That is approximately 480,000 workers.
While that doesn't seem like a relatively large number in the grand scheme of things, the move is still an important step. In their notice, the government says doing this is an important step towards gender equality in the workplace.
In the notice, Patty Hadju, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour said, "Having open and honest conversations around menstruation and providing women and employees with the products they need, is part of our plan to ensure equality for women and support safe and healthy work environments."
The notice also says that "menstruation is a fact of life yet menstrual products are not treated as a basic necessity in the workplace. Menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, are essential to the health of women and those employees who use the products, allowing them to participate fully in the workforce and society."
Following the announcement today, the government has launched a 60 day consideration period. Canadians have until July 2, 2019 to submit their comments and feedback on this proposal.
According to the notice, "contributions may be sent by email to EDSC.LAB.SST.POLITIQUES-LAB.OHS.POLICY.ESDC@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca or by mail to 165 De l’Hôtel-de-Ville Street, Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0J9."