Should menstrual products be free at work?

Ottawa considering option for federally regulated workplaces

Should menstrual products be free at work?

Ottawa is seeking feedback from Canadians on the subject of free menstrual products in the workplace.

The government says it wants to ensure women in federally regulated workplaces have access to menstrual products to reduce the physical and psychological health risks, the prevalence of harassment and violence in the workplace and the prevalence of missed work due to a lack of access to menstrual products. 

This will also support the federal government’s commitments to gender equity, it says.

The survey aims to collect information on:

  • providing menstrual products in in-office, non-traditional, and remote workplaces, including mobile employees
  • the method of dispensing menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces
  • the need for educational materials alongside this policy

The consultation is open until Sept. 7, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of difficulties to everyone, but female workers are disproportionately affected compared with their male counterparts, according to a previous report.  

2019 feedback

In May 2019, the Labour Program published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The notice outlined a proposal to require employers to provide free menstrual products in their workplaces.

The government also gave stakeholders and members of the public the opportunity to provide input on the proposal for a period of 60 days. Out of the 42 respondents, 57 per cent were supportive of the proposal, 41 per cent were against the proposal and two per cent were neutral.

Also, many participants raised further questions for consideration, and those who submitted feedback were more critical of the proposal. Out of the 29 submissions from individuals, 38 per cent were supportive of the proposal, 59 per cent were against the proposal and three per cent were neutral.

“Gender equality is not about men and women being biologically the same, but is about addressing barriers to equality, and allocating resources to programs and decision-making that takes these barriers into consideration to level the playing field,” said one respondent.

“Females working for the government are well paid, and the taxpayers should not be burdened with providing their sanitary needs,” said another.

Hyundai Auto Canada, Bounteous and Altima Dental Canada are among the winners of the Best Workplace for Women for 2021, according to MediaCorp.

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