by Eleanor RileyTampons

Wedding cakes and cocktail cherries are exempt from GST. Menstrual care products, on the other hand, are taxed at the point of purchase. A group, “No Tax on Tampons,”  wants to change this.

They are organizing a petition in support of private member Bill C-282 to change the fact that menstrual care products are taxed as a luxury item. The petition is intended to get voter support for the bill, “an Act to amend the Excise Tax Act for feminine hygiene products”, and to draw attention to this tax unfairness at the federal level.

The private member bill, introduced by Member of Parliament Irene Mathyssen, would make menstrual care products an essential good — and exempt from this tax.

The petition organizers agree with the bill. Jill Piebiek, one of the petition organizers, told the Leveller that “People who menstruate need these products to live a normal, public life — these products are not a luxury and the current government should recognize this. We know that over 40,000 people agree that these products are not a luxury. They should be classified like other medical products that are essential to our daily lives.”

This is not the first attempt to get menstrual care products classified as essential goods. Given that previous attempts to remove GST have failed, what makes this petition attempt different? The organizers have a plan to get the petition to the House of Commons, where they hope it will make a strong statement.

“We plan to collect hard copies of the petition that can be tabled in the House of Commons,” said Piebeck. “We are aiming for 50,000 online signatures on that will send 50,000 emails to decision makers in parliament.” Organizers are encouraging supporters to print out the petition, to get as many hard copies as possible mailed in since “it’s important that we can make a formal statement by tabling the petition in the house.”

The petition’s timing is especially important prior to election season, the organizers want to get their 50,000 hard copies to the House of Commons before parliament dissolves for the 2015 election, and the bill is lost.

As of this writing the petition has gathered over 49,000 signatures.

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol.7, No.5 (Feb/March 2015).