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Free menstrual products now available to federal employees< /p>Open in full screen mode

The marketing director of the Canadian division of Citron Hygiene, Krista Plewes.


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As of Friday, all employers under federal regulation, including federal government departments, Crown corporations, banks, airports and train stations, must provide menstrual products free of charge in their employee washrooms.

The change to the Canada Labor Code announced in May 2023 states that starting December 15, these workplaces must provide free tampons and sanitary napkins in employee washrooms, as well as a covered container for disposal of waste in each bathroom stall.

Free menstrual products are for employee use, not the public.

Rachel Ettinger started a petition in 2020 which was presented to the House of Commons by her MP, Peter Fragiskatos, calling for this new requirement.

We We must consider menstrual products as a basic necessity, just like toilet paper. You can't provide a truly inclusive space for your employees without providing menstrual products, she explained.

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Rachel Ettinger is the founder of Here For Her, a social enterprise focused on health education across Canada.

Ms. Ettinger is the founder of Here For Her, a social enterprise focused on health education across Canada. Along with other organizations, she presented recommendations to the government to make menstrual products available in workplaces.

One ​​of these groups is the Ottawa-based non-profit Period Packs.

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That makes a huge difference to know that there are always tampons and that you don't need to carry one everywhere, like at the bottom of your handbag, at the bottom of your school bag or in your pocket , said Period Packs general manager Meghan White.

Providing free tampons and sanitary pads to employees also creates a more equitable work environment, White said.

It is not appropriate to ask employees to leave during their lunch, a time supposed to be rest, to get menstrual products, she added.

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According to Meghan White, the amendment to the Labor Code strengthens the argument that offering free menstrual products creates a more equitable workplace.

One ​​of the recommendations made by Ms. Ettinger and others, and now included in the list of requirements, is the installation of menstrual dispensers and of disposal containers in all restrooms, including men's restrooms.

It’s not just women or those who identify as such who menstruate. Transgender men, gender non-conforming people, and two-spirit people also menstruate, and everyone who menstruates deserves to menstruate with dignity.

Citizens have taken to social media to decry the demand for menstrual products in men's restrooms, but Meghan White points out that limiting products to women would force everyone who menstruates into women's restrooms .

We can't ask people to identify themselves at their workplace. Why not adapt to everyone if that’s possible? Why not set the highest standard as a federally regulated agency? she asked.

Supporters of the new measure point out that a simple basket containing a few individually wrapped tampons and sanitary napkins placed somewhere in the restroom is enough to satisfy the requirement, and that the disposal containers in each stall will also accept the shields. 'incontinence for everyone.

Free menstrual products at work

Even though the amendment to the Labor Code was announced seven months ago, everything indicates that many affected employers have not yet installed the dispensers and disposal containers, according to the marketing director of the Canadian division of Citron Hygiene, Krista Plewes.

She says while most federal departments and Crown corporations have probably been informed by higher authorities, she is less convinced that this is the case for federally regulated institutions such as banks, transportation agencies and airports. .

I think many of them haven't heard of these regulations yet. We've spoken to many customers who are unprepared because they weren't aware, and I think there needs to be more communication.

By far the company's most popular menstrual product dispensers are the Aunt Flow line machines, created in the United States with the aim of providing free pads and tampons in toilets.

Plewes said her company, which is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Aunt Flow, is prepared to meet the increase in demand as facility managers become aware of the new requirement, but it is not #x27;is not necessarily the case across the hygiene industry.

Regarding fears of theft, the CEO mentioned that a recent survey conducted by her company shows that the vast majority of respondents only took the number of pads or tampons they need at that time.

We don't see people stealing toilet paper, so why would they steal these products? The more we can standardize free products, the better the lives of menstruating people around the world will be.

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In a post on its Instagram account, the Winnipeg airport showed off one of its recently installed free menstrual product dispensers. (File photo)

To explain these new requirements and exceptions, the Ministry of Employment and Social Development has published a guide on its website.

Questioned by CBC, the ministry sent an email indicating that employees must report to their employer any situation deemed contrary to the Labor Code using the internal process for resolution of complaints, which is accessible on the ministry's website.

He also wrote that financing the purchase of menstrual products and disposal containers is the responsibility of each employer.

CBC also questioned Public Services and Procurement Canada to comment on potential delays in the implementation of this new regulation. At the time of publishing this text, the ministry had not yet responded.

Although the launch is not perfect, Rachel Ettinger judges that it It's important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

I really hope as an activist that this will have a domino effect on d other public sector companies, on schools, and of course, on the private sector, which will realize that it is a question of inclusiveness, she said.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">With information from Giacomo Panico of < em>CBC News

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