Group of women petition against tampon tax
By Allanah Wills
A group of Canadian women want to change the way feminine hygiene products are taxed.
A petition on change.org, No Tax on Tampons, describes itself as a campaign to get the federal government to remove the GST charged on menstruation products.
While items like chocolate spread, artificial teeth and fish are free from tax, tampons and other feminine products are considered non-essential.
Toronto resident Jill Piebiak is behind the petition and said she believes the tax is a form of gender-based discrimination.
“I have always known about the tax on menstruation products and never really understood it. In the last year or so many of my friends and I would often talk about it and complain that it exists,” said Piebiak. “As I did more research I realized just how unfair the tax was and was unable to find any other products that were taxed in a gendered way.”
Piebiak claims that in 2014, Canadian women spent approximately $520 million on menstrual hygiene products. This would mean the government collected around $36 million in sales tax off these items, enough to buy a 460 acre private island in Belize or 36 Jaguar Supercars. With approximately 18 million women in Canada, 10 million of them are within the average age of menstruation.
This isn’t the first time focus has been put on the tax. London NDP MP Irene Mathyssen introduced Bill C-282 An Act to amend Excise Tax Act (feminine hygiene products) in 2011. The bill got little notice but was re-introduced in 2013 where it garnered more attention on social media.
“With the federal election coming soon, we thought it was important to raise awareness about Bill C282,” said Piebiak. “Since the introduction of GST in 1991, the government has stayed with its decision to tax feminine hygiene products.”
The petition has received 51,000 signatures since its start at the end of January, surpassing the original goal of 50,000 and will be delivered to six members of parliament including Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.
University of Windsor kinesiology student Jelena Ristic, 20, supports the petition and doesn’t believe women should have to pay extra for a necessity.
“I signed it right away,” said Ristic. “I think that if it leads to actual substantial change, it’s a great thing. I’m afraid that it’ll be lost on the ears of the parliament….amongst other Canadian women’s rights issues.”
The Department of Finance is responsible for Canada’s tax policies and have a strict rule against commenting on policy proposals.
The Canadian campaign is one of many worldwide, including a similar petition created in the United Kingdom in 2014 which has so far prompted no change.