Ottawa seeks feedback on plan to make free menstrual products available at federally regulated workplaces
The federal government is one step closer to its plan to make free menstrual products available in federally regulated workplaces across Canada.
“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,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr, federal Minister of Labour.
Ottawa has published draft regulations to support the move. They 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, it said.
When employees, including those who are gender diverse, find themselves without access to these products, they may turn to unsuitable solutions, Ottawa said. 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 Nov. 13, 2022.
“Menstrual products are a basic need for people who menstruate,” said Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth. “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.”
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 per cent 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.
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