Are tampons a luxury?
How you answer that question could affect the outcome of a Change.org petition
that argues Canadians shouldn't have to pay GST on menstrual products.
Currently, Canadians pay 5 per cent tax on tampons, pads and the like because they are defined as non-essential or luxury items by the Government of Canada.
“But we all know that buying tampons, pads, moon/diva cups, or panty liners is not optional,” writes Jill Piebiak, the leader of the No Tax on Tampons petition, which has garnered nearly 60,000 signatures to date. “These products are an essential part of a normal, public life for people with periods.”
Piebiak lists some of the unusual items that are exempt from GST, like incontinence products, cocktail cherries, human sperm and wedding cakes, as “insult to injury.”
André Picard recently renewed the issue of how and why things are taxed in The Globe and Mail
and why – for those who have never had to buy them or don't pay much mind to the menstrual product tax – the tampon tax is worrying.
"There are those who will argue that paying a 5 per cent tax on a box of tampons is not going to break the bank. Invariably, someone will make the argument that toilet paper is taxed, so..." writes Picard. "But menstrual products are only used by one sex (and to be precise, by some transgender people):
"It is probably the only example of sex-based taxation of a necessary – not luxury – good."
A similar petition
garnered supporters and op-eds last year in the UK – some even suggested
they should be free – where menstrual products carry a five per cent tax. Australia has also petitioned
the "bloody outrage."
The debate has been waged in Canada for more than a decade. Marilyn Churley, an Ontario MPP at the time, proposed the government drop the GST on feminine hygiene products in 2002.
The issue was re-introduced by then-MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis as a private member's bill in 2004 and 2006, then raised again in 2007 and 2009, but ultimately, nothing was ever passed into law.
MP Irene Mathyssen (who championed the issue in 2009) last introduced the Excise Tax Act for feminine hygiene products in 2013, which Piebiak is throwing her support behind.
"The rallying cry of the No Tax on Tampons campaign is that there should be: 'No tax on periods. Period,'" writes Picard in the Globe. "They're right and, to borrow one of their clever puns, there should be 'no womb for debate' on the issue."
What do you think of the petition? Should Canadians have to pay a tax on menstrual products? Let us know in the comments below!