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Free menstrual products in Canadian federally regulated workplaces


Global Workplace Insider - A Norton Rose Fulbright Blog

The Minister of Labour for Canada has announced Proposed Regulations under the Canada Labour Code.

If adopted, employers will have to, among other things:

  • Provide menstrual products, including clean and hygienic tampons and menstrual pads, in each toilet room or, if that is not possible, in another location in the workplace controlled by the employer that is accessible by employees at all times and offers a reasonable amount of privacy.
  • Provide a covered container for the disposal of menstrual products.

Violations of the Proposed Regulations may result in a range of penalties: from $750 per violation (for businesses with less than 5 employees or $30,000 in annual gross revenue) up to $12,000 per violation (for businesses with at least 100 employees or at least $5 million in annual gross revenue).

Consultations related to the Proposed Regulations showed that many individuals struggle to afford menstrual products and experience unexpected periods, which can result in unsafe improvised products (e.g. toilet paper), lost wages due to the need to leave work to obtain products, anxiety, and embarrassment.

According to Labour Canada, the Proposed Regulations would mitigate these problems and support the Government’s broader gender-based analysis (GBA+) initiatives to build a more inclusive Canada and address systemic gender-based discrimination.

The Proposed Regulations align with similar initiatives in other jurisdictions. For example, Scotland’s Period Products Act recently passed, requiring schools, colleges, universities, and other public bodies to provide menstrual products for free. A number of other government entities around the world have also provided for menstrual products in schools, but apparently not in workplaces.[1]

Thanks to Erin Colwell for assistance with an earlier draft of this article

[1] New Zealand; Kenya; South Africa; Botswana; Uganda; Zambia; New South Wales, Victoria (Australia); Illinois, Washington, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia (USA);  Île-de-France (France); Seoul (South Korea); British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, PEI (Canada).


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