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e-3012 (Health)

Initiated by Janelle Brennand Armstrong from Kinburn, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Toilet paper is provided for free in all public washrooms and federally regulated workplaces as a basic necessity, yet menstrual products are not;
  • Menstruation is a normal and healthy part of life that affects over 50 percent of the Canadian population for a large portion of their lifetime;
  • Not all individuals who menstruate can afford or access menstrual products;
  • Periods do not stop during pandemics, and COVID-19 has exacerbating inequities in Canada by disproportionately affecting those facing vulnerabilities, including those who already faced vulnerability in affording and accessing menstrual products;
  • Stigma attached to menstruation can impact an individual’s ability to access menstrual products;
  • Menstruation and related stigma can cause individuals to miss school or work, leading to disparities in income and education for those who menstruate and increasing gender inequality;
  • The precedent has already been set globally, with Scotland now legally requiring free access to menstrual products; and
  • The Government response to a similar petition, which cited COVID-19 as the reason why action on this issue would be delayed, fails to acknowledge the fact that COVID-19 is exacerbating the issue and makes progress even more urgent.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to enact legislation that would require all Canadian jurisdictions to ensure menstrual products are available for free in public and workplace washrooms, and accessible for free in certain locations (such as doctor’s offices, pharmacies, schools, universities, etc.) to anyone who needs them, with the intention of different menstrual products being accessible to all Canadians with reasonable ease and reasonable dignity.

Response by the Minister of Labour

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Anthony Housefather

The Labour Program recognizes menstrual products are essential to the health of 40% of the federal workforce and yet they are not treated as a basic need. Providing workers with access to 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 equity and advancing gender equality.

The Labour Program seeks to promote and sustain stable industrial relations and safe, fair, healthy, equitable and productive workplaces within the federal jurisdiction. This mandate is partially achieved through the development and implementation of Occupational Health and Safety Regulations made under the Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code) to reduce work-related accidents and illnesses in federal jurisdiction workplaces. The federal jurisdiction is defined in the Code and comprises approximately 8% of the Canadian workforce, including: banking; telecommunication broadcasting air interprovincial rail and road transportation; shipping and related services; grain elevators feed and seed mills; uranium mining; Crown corporations; and the federal public administration.

In May 2019, the Labour Program published a Notice of Intent (NOI) outlining a consideration to amend regulations to require employers to provide menstrual products in the workplace for use by their respective employees. The Notice of Intent provided stakeholders and members of the public the opportunity to provide input on the proposed consideration. The majority of individuals who responded to the NOI support the consideration of the initiative.

Stakeholders and members of the public shared opinions on what type of menstrual products should be provided and where the products should be located in the workplace. Additionally, respondents commented on the importance of creating safe and equitable access to menstrual products as well as the need to consider potential financial implications of providing menstrual products in the workplace. For more information, please see the What We Heard Report that was published on the Government’s website.

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.

The Labour Program has decided to move forward with amending the sanitation provisions under the various occupational health and safety regulations under Part II of the Code. As included in the Labour Program’s Forward Regulatory Plan: 2021 to 2023, the objective of the proposed amendments is to require federally regulated employers to provide menstrual products in the workplace to reduce the physical and psychological health risks that may be caused by the lack of access to menstrual products. 

This approach will be developed in multiple phases including:

  • Convening a roundtable of experts on the subject of the provision of menstrual products in the workplace
  • Publishing a discussion paper and survey on the Labour Program website outlining the findings of the roundtable of experts and seeking public feedback on draft policy options, and
  • Conducting consultations with industry stakeholders, to amend all applicable OHS regulations to require employers to provide menstrual products in their workplace.

The initial phase of convening a roundtable is underway. The Labour Program will then have greater insight into how existing initiatives are being implemented. The roundtable will also inform the Labour Program’s policy and provide a framework for its consultations with stakeholders from various industries in fall 2021.

Open for signature
December 10, 2020, at 4:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 9, 2021, at 4:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Karen McCrimmon (Kanata—Carleton)
April 26, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00881)
Government response tabled
June 9, 2021
Photo - Karen McCrimmon
Liberal Caucus
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