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e-2636 (Government services and administration)

Initiated by Rachel Ettinger from Kemptville, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Toilet paper is a basic necessity, yet menstrual products are seen as luxury items;
  • Menstruation is a part of health;
  • Not all individuals who menstruate can afford menstrual products and may have to choose between eating dinner or buying products;
  • Those who menstruate have experienced a time when they were unprepared for their period and had to leave work or school, which creates an equity issue.;
  • Over 50% of the Canadian population menstruates;
  • When a workplace is an inclusive space for all, employees are happier and more productive;
  • In 2019, the federal government began moving in this direction when it organized a first round of consultation on the prospect of providing free menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces; and
  • Ultimately, no policy change has materialized and the government’s interest in the initiative appears to have faded.
We, the undersigned, Canadian citizens, call upon the Government of Canada to provide free menstrual products (tampons and pads) in washrooms at all federally regulated workplaces and address menstrual equity at the national level by recommencing its work on this proposal.

Response by the Minister of Labour

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): ANTHONY HOUSEFATHER

The Government of Canada recognizes menstrual products are essential to the health of 40% of the federal workforce and yet are not treated as a basic need.  It recognizes provision of menstrual products in the workplace is an occupational health and safety issue, and an important item in the every day lives of Canadians who menstruate. Providing workers with access to free menstrual products is expected to support better health outcomes and workplace productivity while helping to reduce the stigma and shame often associated with menstruation. This challenge continues to persist despite the progress that has been made towards gender equality.

It is for this reason that the Government of Canada’s Labour Program published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Canada Gazette, Part I on May 4, 2019 to solicit feedback on potential amendments to require employers to provide menstrual products in the workplace, recognizing the federal jurisdiction has over 1.26 million employees and approximately 18,500 employers that will be impacted as this subject continues to be examined.

Following the publication of the NOI soliciting feedback on the provision of menstrual products by employers in the workplace, the Labour Program received mixed reactions from stakeholders and individuals across Canada with no consensus or any indication of strong support or disapproval.  Labour Program received 42 submissions: 29 from individuals and 13 from organizations. While a slight majority of submissions were supportive of the proposal, more than one third raised concerns around the financial burden of this proposal and how products should be provided. Employers noted that should the proposal be considered, further consultations would need to take place to understand the changes and the potential impact on them as employers.

Stakeholders made up of union and employer representatives, contribute to the development and finalization of how Canada’s Labour Program prioritizes its regulatory agenda. Since 2015, this collaboration has brought forward much needed changes to key protections for workers in the federal jurisdiction. This spans all three parts of the Canada Labour Code (the Code); including Occupational Health and Safety, and Labour Standards, with a fourth part (Administrative Monetary Penalties) scheduled to come into force in winter 2021.

The Labour Program strives to maintain balance between the economic impacts of these changes on workplaces while best protecting the health and safety of employees when bringing in major regulatory changes. This is achieved through extensive collaboration and consultation with both union and employer stakeholders in an effort to ensure optimal working conditions and standards for workers while also bringing in changes in a way that does not overburden employers with new regulatory requirements.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has posed additional challenge to every individual and workplace across Canada. As the situation evolves, the Labour Program is conscious of and itself has not been immune to these challenges, and priorities have had to be shuffled in order to support federally regulated workplaces in any way possible during and following the pandemic. At the same time, the Labour Program recognizes the provision of menstrual products in the workplace as an important health and safety issue. As such, this initiative will be revisited and considered for inclusion in future Labour Program regulatory plans.

Open for signature
July 7, 2020, at 9:42 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 5, 2020, at 9:42 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Peter Fragiskatos (London North Centre)
October 2, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00055)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Peter Fragiskatos
London North Centre
Liberal Caucus