The big news is out - free menstrual products to be available starting December 2023 at federally regulated workplaces, thanks to the new legislation.
Menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, are as essential as items like toilet paper and soap, yet they have not received the same consideration in most workplaces. Consequently, in 2021, the Canadian government made a commitment to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that menstrual products are readily available in all federally regulated workplaces.
Today, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. announced that starting from December 15, 2023, employers in federally regulated workplaces will be mandated to provide menstrual products to their employees at no cost while they are at work. This requirement entails placing pads and tampons in restrooms or other areas controlled by the employer, ensuring accessibility for any employee who may need them during working hours.
This initiative is designed to benefit all workers who menstruate, including cisgender women, non-binary individuals, transgender men, and intersex individuals. It will significantly improve the well-being of nearly half a million workers who may require menstrual products during their workday, eliminating the need for them to resort to inadequate solutions like extending the use of menstrual products beyond the recommended time frame or avoiding work altogether.
The final Regulations, now available in Part II of the Canada Gazette, were developed following extensive consultations with stakeholders, experts, and Canadians. These Regulations offer flexibility to employers in implementing these changes in their workplaces, as they apply to a diverse range of federally regulated private and public sector workplaces.
Treating pads and tampons as essential items will promote fairness, reduce stigma, and create healthier, more inclusive workplaces. This move aligns with other government initiatives aimed at dismantling barriers to equality, such as the Menstrual Equity Fund, which will distribute menstrual products to Canadians in need through women’s shelters, not-for-profits, charities, community-based organizations, and youth-led organizations. Women and Gender Equality Canada will launch this national pilot project in the near future.
Guidance materials will be developed in consultation with employers and made available online before the effective date. In the meantime, federally regulated employers can contact the Labour Program for assistance in understanding these changes.
- Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.: "Tampons and pads are basic necessities. So we’re making sure they’re provided to workers at no cost because it will result in healthier and safer workplaces."
- Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien: "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 crucial aspect of promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Canadians. Ensuring that workers have access to free menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces is just one of many ways we can support women, girls, trans, and non-binary individuals who menstruate."
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Jenna Sudds: "Providing menstrual products at no cost, in addition to other essential sanitary items, is a logical step. Our government is leading by example in addressing menstrual equity and encourages other businesses to consider how they can promote gender equality in all workplaces."