"One in three Canadians who need pads, tampons or other menstrual products struggle to afford them."
Menstrual products are a basic necessity for many Canadians and the Government of Canada is well aware. On October 14, federal Minister of Labour Seamus O'Regan Jr. unveiled a proposed amendment to the Canada Labour Code that would give complementary menstrual products to workers in federally regulated industries.
"We'd never ask people to bring their own toilet paper to work. So why do we do that with menstrual products? We're changing that. We're putting menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces and treating workers with the dignity they deserve," the minister said in a press release.
If approved, the amendment would alter occupational health and safety regulations to add menstrual products to the list of free sanitation tools employers must provide. The list already includes "toilet paper, soap, warm water, and a means to dry hands."
The change would only cover workplaces under federal jurisdiction, so the federal bureaucracy and Crown corporations, as well as the maritime, rail, airline, banking, media and communications sectors, among others.
The government estimates that the occupational health and safety section of the Canada Labour Code touches about 1.3 million workers, approximately 35% of whom use menstrual products.
"All barriers to accessing them need to be broken down, and supports at both the individual and institutional levels need to be improved for women, girls, trans and non-binary people who menstruate," added Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, who called the proposed rule change "a step in the right direction to reach menstrual equity and advance gender equality in the workplace."
The draft regulation is open to public feedback until November 13, 2022.
Earlier in 2022, the federal government announced the creation of the Menstrual Equity Fund, which aims to make menstrual products more accessible for people who can't regularly afford them.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.