New changes to the Canadian Labour Code mandate that federally-regulated workplaces must provide menstrual products to their workers. Federally-regulated workplaces include financial institutions, airlines, telecommunications and more. There are over 18,000 employers and 1.3 million workers, an estimated 35% of whom menstruate regularly. This is an exciting new development that sends a strong signal that Canada is building on its existing menstrual equity leadership.
Menstrual equity is the affordability, accessibility, and safety of menstrual products for everyone who needs them, including laws and policies that acknowledge and consider menstruation. Full menstrual equity also includes access to adequate sanitation facilities, product choice, education and a shame-free attitude towards periods.
The menstrual equity movement - the combined activist and legislative changes that support it - has been progressively gaining momentum here in Canada as well as globally in recent years. In Canada, the federal government’s creation of a $25 million Menstrual Equity Fund in 2022 brought the issue to mainstream awareness. But this key initiative is just one part of a far broader movement that is now making its way into legislation, starting with federally-regulated workplaces.
Why do we need Menstrual Care and Equity in the Workplace?
In the same way that toilet paper and paper towels are supplied in washrooms, so should menstrual supplies.,
As noted in the new regulatory changes;
“The absence of menstrual products in the workplace can translate into physical and psychological health and safety risks for menstruating employees. This could include turning to improvised solutions or avoiding the workplace due to anxiety, shame and stigma, and could impact mental health, performance and productivity. In addition, the cost of menstrual products varies significantly from one location to another in Canada, and the financial burden is borne by menstruating employees.”
– Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 156, Number 42: Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (Menstrual Products)
With this legislation now enacted, organizations have an excellent opportunity to show their leadership by not only complying, but adopting progressive practices that many organizations have demonstrated to support choice, sustainability and inclusion.
Sustainable Menstrual Equity in the Workplace: a whitepaper
To date, the baseline for addressing menstrual equity in the workplace has been the provision of free pads and tampons in washrooms. While this is a welcome first step, it falls short of a sustainable long term solution that considers the environment, user needs and accessiblity. Bringing a lens of sustainability to workplace menstrual equity reduces long-term costs, supports climate goals and improves employee satisfaction. As organizations seek to create healthier and more supportive environments for their employees, it is becoming increasingly common for progressive employers, governments and educational institutions to prioritize sustainability as part of their menstrual equity initiatives.
To support employers as they navigate these new regulations, Aisle has published a whitepaper titled “Menstrual Equity in the Workplace: a roadmap to success and sustainability”. Using examples from our experience supporting numerous financial institutions, post-secondary institutions, corporations and civic bodies across North America, we have outlined a strong business case on how implementing sustainable menstrual equity policies in the workplace brings huge benefits to organisations.
The whitepaper demonstrates the importance of providing menstrual care products at work, outlines the benefits of reusable menstrual products, and offers guidance on how organizations can seamlessly incorporate these products into existing wellness programs, while complying with the new federal regulations and promoting leadership in menstrual equity and a sustainable future for all.