Canada to Require Menstrual Product Access in Regulated Workplaces
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.
Last week, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. announced that, as of Dec. 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.
“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,” says O’Regan Jr.
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.
In related news, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill in April providing free menstrual products in public school restrooms. Read more on that here.