For as long as we can remember, women's menstrual products have been very costly in Canada. If you're a woman living in North America, you'll likely have to pay an absurd price to deal with that time of the month. While this hasn't been at the forefront of most political conversations, this year things have started to change. Canadians are arguing that menstrual products for the following reasons.
It was just announced on Saturday, May 4 that the Government of Canada would consider making menstrual products free for employees. Since then, many Canadians have expressed their joy online and confirmed why they believe period products should be free.
To start, menstrual products are very expensive. The average period lasts anywhere from four to eight days every month. According to Health Line, at the age of 11, a woman can expect to have her first period. Periods will then last until the average age of 51. That’s over 480 periods. On average, a large box of tampons in Canada costs $12 at Walmart.
This is how much the average person can expect to pay in a lifetime for period products:
1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period= 20 tampons per cycle x 480 periods = 9,600 tampons. At 36 tampons per box, that's 266.66 boxes x $12 = $3,200
This is how much the average person can expect to pay in a year for period products:
1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period= 20 tampons per cycle x 12 periods a year = 240 tampons. At 36 per box, that's 6.66 boxes x $12 = $80
Don't forget that not all Canadians are comfortable risking the development of Toxic Shock Syndrome caused by using tampons, so many opt for pads, DIVA cups or other forms of menstrual products. All of these products come at different cost Some women even opt for multiple menstrual products during one cycle just to prevent any accidents from occurring.
Did you know that one-third of young Canadian women can’t afford menstrual products? Some even have to choose between eating and protecting themselves from their own period.
According to Plan International Canada, period poverty is very much alive and real. According to the survey, feminine hygiene products were among the top three material costs of being a woman across all age groups. Out of the 2,000 women surveyed, one third had troubles paying for the appropriate period care. So yeah, they should be free.
Period products were also previously taxed as a luxury up until very recently. Shocking, I know. I can’t speak for all, but I can confidently say for myself that nothing about having a period luxurious. According to Canadian Menstruators, from 1991 to 2015, the Canadian government considered all menstrual hygiene products a “non-essential item” or luxury- making it subject to GST.
While a unanimous motion was passed on May 11, 2015, voting in favour of eliminating GST from menstrual products in Canada, it is estimated that in 2014 alone, Canadian woman between the ages of 12 and 49 spent a whopping $519,976,963 on menstrual hygiene products. That means, the government collected around $36,398,387 in government sales taxes from tampons and pads. Now, Canadians are thinking it's time for the government to use some of that money to pay for everyone’s menstrual needs.
Set aside how expensive products are, having your period is just the worst. The cramps, weird cravings, weight gain, uncomfortable feeling, and mood swings are enough. The last thing we want to do is pay for it.
A lot of Canadians also believe the government should pay for hygiene products because it has the power to end the stigma associated with periods. Menstruation is a fact of life. A messy and uncomfortable fact, but that doesn’t mean we need to shun it away. Access to pads and tampons can be challenging enough given the financial strain. The last thing many of us want to do is explain to someone why we need a tampon or need to run home to change our clothes.
Making products free, available, and in public washrooms has the potential to eliminate the stigma. Period Promise, a BC-based campaign aimed at making period products accessible to all, is already taking strides forward to normalize periods.
This year, our nation has made some sizeable leaps forward in offering free menstrual products in Canada.
A couple of months ago, a school district in BC became the first in Canada to offer free pads and tampons to their students. Shortly after, the government decided that all schools across BC will have free period products offered in every public bathroom.
While the Canadian Government is only considering making tampons and pads free for their employees, it is a step forward. This wouldn’t mean the everyone who needs products would have access to them- but that’s where the Period Promise comes in. This campaign aims to provide pads and tampons to those in need.
“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.