While many “essential” items are exempt or zero-rated (GST charge of zero per cent), such as groceries and prescription drugs, tampons were not. Many questioned the government’s perception of “non-essential”, especially seeing that items such as music lessons, tobacco leaves and agriculture products are classified as “essential” and are not taxed.
A Canadian petition started in March and suggested the government reaped a total of $36,398,387 in 2014 tax revenues, “because our uteruses did what they do naturally” and the author of the UK Change.org petition with 235,000 supporters, Laura Croyton, told The Telegraph that this taxation is another example of the misogyny that is still all too common.
“I think women have been made to feel shameful about menstruation for a very long time and I think the period taboo needs to be challenged and I think it has no relevance whatsoever. Having a period should be if anything something you celebrate because it shows you’re in good health … It’s important to overturn mainly because of the original reason the tax was placed – which was because a really male dominated parliament thought sanitary products weren’t essential.”
While Canada’s parliament is still largely male dominant, the issue arose in the House a few weeks ago. During session on May 7, the issue of taxation on feminine hygiene products was petitioned by dozens of NDP Members of Parliament, including Libby Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver East.
In an announcement from the Department of Finance, the government stated they would remove the GST and HST from the sale of “a product that is marketed exclusively for feminine hygiene purposes and is a sanitary napkin, tampon, sanitary belt, menstrual cup or other similar product.”