Government of Canada one step closer to ensuring free access to menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces
Menstrual products are a basic need and are essential to upholding Canadians’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as to ensuring women’s participation in school, work and society. Yet, one in three Canadians who need pads, tampons or other menstrual products struggle to afford them. To make life more affordable and workplaces more equitable, the Government of Canada is proposing to strengthen regulations under the Canada Labour Code to provide free menstrual products to workers in federally regulated industries.
Today, the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr., announced that the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (Menstrual Products) are now available for comment in Part I of the Canada Gazette. The draft regulations provide employers with flexibility in how they are implemented and aim to reduce physical and psychological health risks associated with lack of access to menstrual products at work. When employees, including those who are gender diverse, find themselves without access to these products, they may turn to unsuitable solutions. Some may even avoid the workplace altogether due to the shame and stigma that continue to surround menstruation in some instances.
The proposed regulations were developed following extensive consultations with stakeholders, experts and the Canadian public. The results of these consultations helped to inform the development of the draft regulations. Interested parties are now invited to share their feedback on the regulations by November 13, 2022.
The scope of this unique initiative is inclusive of all workers in federally regulated public and private sectors who menstruate, such as cisgender women, non-binary individuals, transgender men and intersex people. It aligns with other efforts by the Government to break down barriers to equality, such as the national pilot for the Menstrual Equity Fund, which will help make menstrual products available to Canadians in need.
“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 Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour
“Menstrual products are a basic need for people who menstruate. 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. This initiative is a step in the right direction to reach menstrual equity and advance gender equality in the workplace.”
– The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
“No one in Canada should worry about accessing menstrual products. Something as natural as a period should not prevent anyone from going to work and participating fully in society. Menstrual products are not a luxury. They are essential to people’s health and well-being. Let’s lead by example and make a measurable difference in advancing menstrual equity in Canada.”
– Jenna Sudds, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code applies to federally regulated workplaces, private and public sectors alike. Approximately 1.3 million workers are covered by the occupational health and safety provisions in Part II of the Code, of which an estimated 35% require menstrual products on a regular basis.
Current regulations under Part II of the Code require employers to provide basic sanitation products such as toilet paper, soap, warm water, and a means to dry hands. The draft regulations aim to include menstrual products to the list and at no cost to employees who need them at work.
Following an initial notice of intent, the What We Heard Report was published and a roundtable of experts was convened, the findings of which were also published online. Additionally, the Canadian public was invited to complete an online survey and targeted consultations were undertaken with stakeholders.
The draft regulations would amend the following five occupational health and safety regulations:
Director of Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
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