Menstrual Products Now in Men’s Washrooms at Canadian Military Bases, Soon at All Federally Regulated Workplaces

Employment and Social Development Canada says unrestricted access to menstrual products ‘better protects menstruating employees.’
Menstrual Products Now in Men’s Washrooms at Canadian Military Bases, Soon at All Federally Regulated Workplaces
Various menstrual products are seen in a file photo. (Mike Stewart/AP Photo)
Tara MacIsaac

All federally regulated workplaces in Canada must have menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, readily available beginning Dec. 15 to “enable menstruating persons to take part fully in the workforce and society at large.”

The appearance of these products already in men’s washrooms at Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) bases has been noted by the group Veterans 4 Freedom.

“Now available in men’s washrooms across all Canadian Forces Bases. Menstrual products. ‘Why is everyone quitting the CAF?’” the group said in a Dec. 6 post on X. Two other military sources have confirmed this policy is in practice at the bases.
Other federally regulated workplaces include airlines, postal services, broadcasting, railways, trucks and buses that cross provincial or international borders, telecommunications, banks, and federal public services, to name a few.
“Every female-identified, male-identified and all gender toilet rooms will need to have menstrual products,” says Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). “Unrestricted access to menstrual products better protects menstruating employees and makes sure that they feel safe to use the toilet room that best reflects their gender.”

The men’s stalls must also now have sanitary napkin disposal bins, like the women’s washrooms.

ESDC says employees not provided with the products may instead use their menstrual products for longer than they should or not use them at all, or even reuse those products. Providing the products in the workplace, ESDC says, will reduce the medical and psychological impacts of these practices.

The government solicited feedback on the proposal from stakeholders and the public and published the results in October last year as part of a regulatory impact analysis on the matter. The analysis said 57 percent of respondents supported the proposal and 41 percent were against, with 2 percent being neutral.

It said the government’s Labour Program received a petition in 2020 with 2,666 signatories asking for the menstrual products, though it didn’t say whether the petition asked for them to be in men’s washrooms as well.

“Some respondents disagreed with providing products in men’s and all-gender toilet rooms,” it said. Cost was a major concern for those against the policy.

The analysis estimated the cost at about $116.6 million over the 10-year period from 2024 to 2033. Each dispenser was assumed to cost $360, with a cost of $30.9 million for the dispensers alone. That doesn’t include labour costs for installation. Employers are responsible for the costs.

Schools, Universities

It isn’t only the federal government working to get menstrual products in all washrooms, including men’s.
In June, B.C.’s Chilliwack School District approved an amendment to its policy on menstrual products to add the requirement to provide them in boys’ washrooms as well. The school board asked the education ministry for additional funding to cover the cost of adding dispensers “in at least one male washroom space in all schools” within the district, estimated at $19,000, plus $1,000 annually for the products.
Dalhousie University in Halifax has menstrual products in men’s washrooms as part of an equity and inclusion initiative. A similar initiative at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., has met with some resistance.
“Incidences of vandalism in some men’s washrooms underscore the need for further education,” said Neha Dhanvanthry, a support assistant for the equity project, in an article on McMaster’s website.
The town hall and all parks and recreation centres in Saanich, Vancouver Island, in June started providing free menstrual products in all washrooms, men’s included, according to the Times Colonist, a local publication.
Similar policies are in place at institutions in the United States, and some have met with pushback. Clemson University in South Carolina, for example, removed dispensers from the men’s washrooms in the school library in September following criticism by a student Republican group at the university.
Noé Chartier and Matthew Horwood contributed to this report.