Letter: Tampons aren’t a luxury, so ditch the tax on tampons—period

The Canadian government has historically implied menstrual hygiene products are considered a non-essential item or luxury by taxing them at the normal rate. Breakfast cereal, on the other hand, is not. How is this logical?

A campaign and petition was created on Change.org to remove the GST charged on menstruation products. The petition currently has around 60,000 signatures.

Surely most women can agree getting your period and having to buy tampons, pads, and other menstrual hygiene products is far from a luxurious experience. It’s a necessity for all period-having people who want to live normal, public lives.

Upon initial observation, five per cent doesn’t seem like much. I rarely check my receipts to see how much tax I pay and on what products. When presented with facts and statistics, the numbers are eye-opening.

Almost 18 million women between the ages of 12 and 49 spent close to $520 million on menstrual hygiene products in 2014, according to the campaign’s website. This means our government collected approximately $36 million in combined sales taxes just last year to take care of something our bodies do naturally and inevitably.

This kind of sexism isn’t always blatant. There are certain cultural customs so ingrained in society that no one seems to question whether or not they have misogynistic or patriarchal foundations. One example is when we give young girls Easy Bake Ovens and encourage them to play house.

It’s a subtle way of convincing them early on that their place is at home in the kitchen. But people never really see this custom as being sexist until it’s pointed out. Taxing tampons is yet another example of a cultural practice based on an illogical and sexist mindset.

Cocktail cherries, wedding cakes, and Pizza Pockets are all non-taxable. Why should these be considered necessities when pads and tampons aren’t? The Womyn’s Centre at Carleton is on the right track by offering pads and tampons for free.

For women struggling to make ends meet, the tax on tampons is a financial burden from which their male counterparts are exempt. In fact, the tax on menstruation hygiene products is the only example of sex-based taxation on a necessary good in Canada.

I’m not even asking for much. I’ll pay the $8 a box. All I am asking for is the government to stop making money off women simply because their uteri shed once a month.