Edible cake decorations, cocktail cherries and human sperm are all exempt from the federal sales tax, but feminine hygiene products are not.
That’s a fact more than 48,000 Canadians who signed an online petition want to see change.
The petition calls for the federal government to remove the GST on menstruation products stating they are essential products that every woman with periods needs.
“They are a medical necessity for half of the population for at least part of their lifetime,” said MP Bruce Hyer (Green, Thunder Bay-Superior North).
Hyer said it’s discriminatory to tax tampons and other feminine hygiene products and said it’s a basic need for people like groceries.
“For lower income people to pay an extra 13 per cent on something like food is similar,” he said.
MP John Rafferty (NDP, Thunder Bay-Rainy River) also said feminine hygiene products are essential products.
“It’s not as if they are superfluous products like cigarettes and liquor for example. I don’t see any problem with petitioning the government with removing the GST portion on personal hygiene products,” he said.
It is estimated that Canadian women spent almost $520 million on feminine hygiene products in 2014 and the federal government collected $36 million in GST from the sales.
Rafferty believes the issue is one that deserves a good look by the federal government, but he said it’s unlikely they will do anything with the petition.
But the woman who started the petition believes the attention the issue has received will be enough to force the issue into the spotlight.
Jill Piebiak and a group of friends decided to start the petition after researching the issue and realizing there was something they could do about their growing frustration.
“Not only had petitions been started that were similar in the UK and Australia, there had also been a Private Member’s bill that been brought forward,” said Piebiak, who is based out of Toronto.
The bill, introduced by NDP MP Irene Mathyssen in October 2013, wasn’t receiving much attention so Piebiak started the petition to first make people aware feminine hygiene products were subject to GST and there was something that could be done.
The petition went online Jan. 26 and as of Thursday afternoon had more than 48,000 signatures.
Online petitions can’t be tabled in Parliament, so Piebiak wants to encourage people to print a hard copy, sign it and then send it to Mathyssen at the House of Commons.