Providing menstrual products to workers under a new mandate will cost federal employers about $16 million a year

Federal employers are estimated to spend more than $16 million annually to provide workers with menstrual products, as required by a new mandate from the Department of Labor, according to a government report.

“The absence of menstrual products in the workplace can result in physical and psychological risks to the health and safety of menstruating employees,” reads a government report entitled “Regulatory Impact Analysis Summary”, dated October 15.

“This could include resorting to improvised solutions or avoidance of the workplace due to anxiety, shame and stigma, and could impact mental health, performance and productivity.”

The Labor Department released details of its proposed changes to the Canada Labor Code on Oct. 15 that would require federally regulated employers, such as airlines and banks, to provide employees with free menstrual products, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

Already the labor code requires federal employers to provide workers with “basic sanitary products” like toilet paper and toilet soap.

The government’s cost estimate of the proposed change projects how much employers will have to spend on sanitary products over a 10-year period. Providing workers with only tampons and sanitary napkins, not counting the cost of purchasing dispensers and containers, will represent more than $10 million annually.

The amendment will also require federal employers to install menstrual product disposal containers not only in women’s restrooms, but also in men’s bathrooms “to ensure there is no inequality”.

“This will ensure that the unique needs of non-binary people, transgender men and intersex people are also taken into account,” reads the report.

The report adds that “about 35%” of federal employees need menstrual products and expecting them to buy their own places a financial burden on low-income working women.

“The financial burden is particularly heavy for low-income and marginalized menstruating people, including Indigenous and 2SLGBTQI+ people,” the report said.

The report’s reasons for providing federal workers with menstrual products include building a “more inclusive Canada”, addressing “systemic inequities, such as gender discrimination” and promoting ” fairness and equality”.

“We would never ask people to bring their own toilet paper to work. So why do we do this with menstrual products? We are changing that,” Labor Secretary Seamus O’Regan Jr. said in a Press release.

Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, said “all obstacles to their access [menstrual products] must be broken down. »

“This initiative is a step in the right direction to achieve menstrual equity and advance gender equality in the workplace,” she said.

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.

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