Government proposes free menstrual products to support equality in the workplace
May 3, 2019 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
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.
That is why the Government of Canada is publishing a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette today to seek feedback on the possibility of providing free menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces. The feedback gained through the consultation will help ensure that a wide range of perspectives, and the diverse needs of workplaces in the federal jurisdiction, are taken into consideration before moving forward.
This notice gives stakeholders and Canadians the opportunity to submit comments until July 2, 2019.
Providing workers with access to free menstrual products is expected to support better health outcomes and workplace productivity while helping to reduce the stigma often associated with menstruation, which continues to persist despite the progress we have made towards gender equality.
“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 Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
Current regulations under Part II of the Canada Labour Code require employers to provide supplies such as toilet paper, soap, warm water, and a means to dry hands. The Government of Canada is considering adding menstrual products to that list.
Menstrual products are essential to the health of employees who use them, who comprise approximately 40 per cent of the federal workforce. The cost of these products varies significantly by location in Canada, and the financial burden is borne exclusively by menstruating employees. The cost may be unaffordable for some employees, while others may not be prepared for their period resulting in a disruption of their daily lives at work.
The legislative framework for occupational health and safety for workplaces under federal jurisdiction is established under Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code). It applies to private-sector employers in the federal jurisdiction (e.g. banks, railways, airlines, marine ports, telecommunications, broadcasters etc.), Crown Corporations, and the federal public service.
Approximately 1,207,000 employees are currently covered by Part II of the Code. Forthcoming amendments to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act will extend protections under Part II to employees on Parliament Hill.
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Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
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