If you’re Canadian and have a uterus, then you may want to listen up because what I’m about to tell you may or may not be shocking. Since 1991, the Canadian government has been placing GST tax on essential female products like tampons, pads, menstruation cups and panty liners. If you bleed, you’d better believe that the government is snatching those coins out of your purse.
You know, I think my vagina is pretty awesome for a multitude of reasons, even during “that time of the month.” But if you would have told me that my vagina was going to cost me thousands or millions of dollars over time, I probably would have laughed. According to the Toronto-based group Canadian Menstruators, “it’s estimated that approximately 17,876,392 Canadian women between the ages of 12 to 49 spent about $519,976,963.00 on menstrual hygiene products.” Currently feminine hygiene products are seen as luxury items and I can tell you this much: Having my period every month is not a luxury. Let’s be real for a second — have you ever tried to have your period without a tampon, pad or menstrual cup? It’s not fun.
What the government seems to be missing is that to many women, especially those who head up single-parent homes, this tax is doing more harm than good. Many find this tax is unfair, sexist, classist and discriminatory. The money not only adds up over time (according to Canadian Menstruators, the government has collected approximately $36,398,387.00 in GST), but with the combined struggles we face as women trying to secure better income for ourselves (according to the Conference Board of Canada, women aged 25 to 34 earned 78.3 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts in 2010), buying essential feminine hygiene products adds to our financial woes.
NDP MP Irene Mathyssen has twice tabled a private member’s bill called Bill C-282 — An Act to amend the Excise Tax on feminine hygiene products — but nothing has changed. So the Canadian Menstruators have started a petition to get 50,000 hard-copy signatures sent back to Irene Mathyssen’s office by April 27, 2015 so that the bill can be brought forward once again.
The #NoTaxOnTampons hashtag is also being used to spread the word via social media. So you can stand up to the government and tell them “don’t tax my vagina, bro!”