Canada Labour Code to ensure access to menstrual products at work starting December 15
May 10, 2023 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Menstrual products like pads and tampons are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, but they are not treated that way in most workplaces. That is why, in 2021, the Government of Canada committed to making changes to the Canada Labour Code to ensure access to menstrual products in all federally regulated workplaces.
Today, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. announced that, as of December 15, 2023, federally regulated employers will be required to make menstrual products available to workers at no cost while they are in the workplace. That means putting pads and tampons in washrooms (or another space controlled by the employer) so that any worker who needs them while on the job has access.
This initiative is inclusive of all workers who menstruate, and it will improve the well-being of nearly half a million workers who may require menstrual products during their workdays, including cisgender women, non-binary individuals, transgender men, and intersex individuals. These workers would no longer have to turn to unsuitable solutions, such as extending the use of menstrual products beyond the recommended time frame or avoiding work altogether.
The final Regulations, which are now available in Part II of the Canada Gazette, were developed following extensive consultations with stakeholders, experts and Canadians. Because they apply to a wide variety of federally regulated private and public sector workplaces, the Regulations provide employers with flexibility in how they implement these changes in their workplace.
Treating pads and tampons as basic needs will help improve equity, reduce stigma, and create healthier, more inclusive workplaces. It also aligns with other efforts by the Government to break down barriers to equality, such as the Menstrual Equity Fund, through which women’s shelters, not-for-profits, charities, community-based organizations and youth-led organizations would make menstrual products available to Canadians in need. Women and Gender Equality Canada will launch this national pilot project in the coming months.
Guidance material will be developed in consultation with employers and made available online prior to the coming into force date. In the meantime, federally regulated employers can contact the Labour Program at firstname.lastname@example.org if they need help understanding these
“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.”
– Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
“Today we are taking another step toward advancing menstrual equity and gender equality in Canada. Access to menstrual products is a basic necessity and a key part of promoting Canadians’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. Making sure that workers have free menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces is just one of many ways we can support women, girls, trans and non-binary people who menstruate.”
– Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien
“Adding menstrual products to the list of other basic sanitary items at no cost just makes sense. Our government is leading by example to address menstrual equity and encourages other businesses to consider how they can advance gender equality in all workplaces.”
– Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Jenna Sudds
The Government has undertaken extensive consultations to inform the development of the Regulations. The Government has:
- published a Government notice and a What We Heard Report;
- convened a roundtable of experts and published a summary of findings;
- launched a public consultation;
- held targeted consultations with stakeholders; and
- prepublished the draft regulations in Part I of the Canada Gazette for a 30-day comment period.
With these changes to the Code, Canada is following the lead of provinces, such as British Columbia, and other countries, such as Scotland, that provide free and universal access to menstrual products at work.
- Government of Canada one step closer to ensuring free access to menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces
- Minister of Labour’s mandate letter (December 16, 2021)
- Statement by Minister Marci Ien and Parliamentary Secretary Jenna Sudds on Menstrual Hygiene Day
- Labour Program Forward Regulatory Plan: 2023 to 2025
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
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