Employees in federally regulated workplaces will begin to have free access to menstrual products later this year.
The federal government made the announcement Wednesday, saying starting Dec. 15, 2023, employers will be required to make menstrual products available at no cost to public servants.
This means putting pads and tampons in washrooms or other places so that any worker who needs them while on the job has access, Employment and Social Development Canada said in a news release.
“Tampons and pads are basic necessities. So we’re making sure they’re provided to workers at no cost, because it’ll make for healthier and safer workplaces,” Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. said in a statement with the release.
Employers will have flexibility on how they implement the new rules.
A pilot project will roll out in the coming months and guidance material will be developed in consultation with employers and made available online prior to the rules coming into effect, the government said.
This comes after the Liberal government created a public consultation process in 2019 on providing menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces that came to a close in September 2021.
The Liberals pledged to provide free tampons and pads in federally regulated workplaces in their 2021 election campaign.
The changes would apply to nearly 1.3 million workers in the federal labour force, a group that includes banks, telecommunications and transport workers and makes up about eight per cent of the nation’s workers.
Of those workers, the rules would affect about 35 per of them — or about 455,000 workers, the government says.
The initiative is part of Ottawa’s push to improve equity, reduce stigma around periods and make workplaces more inclusive.
The federal government removed the Goods and Services Tax from menstrual products in 2015 — also known as the “pink tax” — and other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States have followed suit.
At the same time, there has been a growing movement to provide free feminine hygiene products on campuses and in schools.
The cost of menstrual products varies significantly across the country.
A 40-pack of tampons in northern and remote communities can cost upwards of $15.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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