Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Free menstrual products are now available to thousands of employees at federally regulated workplaces across Canada.

As of Friday, employers are required to provide menstrual products at no cost to many private and public sector employees in those regulated industries, according to the federal government.

That means putting pads and tampons in washrooms or other spaces so that any worker who needs them while on the job has access, Employment and Social Development Canada had said in a May news release.

The changes apply to nearly 1.3 million workers in the federally regulated labour force, a group that makes up about eight per cent of the nation’s workers.

Of those workers, roughly 35 per cent of them are estimated to need the products regularly — or about 455,000 workers, the government says.

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Workplaces where free menstrual products will be available include banks, postal and courier services, telecommunications, radio and television broadcasting and the transport sector. That also includes airports and airlines, First Nations band councils and Indigenous self-governments, and most Crown corporations.

They will also be free for Parliament Hill workers as well as private-sector firms and municipalities in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

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The initiative is part of Ottawa’s push to improve equity, reduce stigma around periods and make workplaces more inclusive.

In September, the federal government announced it will fund $17.9 million to Food Banks Canada to run a national pilot program aimed at tackling challenges of affordability and stigma related to accessing menstrual products that many Canadians face.

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Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan will hold a news conference in Toronto on Friday afternoon about the new regulation.

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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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