A Daily VICE production
Hey, do you have a vagina?
Well, you probably fork over $35 a year to the government because of it.
But, no longer!
That $35 is how much federal income tax is paid on menstruation products—tampons, pads, diva cups, so on—and some women want it gone.
While it might not seem like a lot of money (you're looking at about $1,300 over a lifetime), a coalition of menstruators are calling for change.
"Buying tampons, pads, moon/diva cups, or panty liners is not optional. These products are an essential part of a normal, public life for people with periods," the group says.
As such, they shouldn't be getting taxed.
And, thanks to an NDP motion that was debated in the House of Commons on Friday, they won't be any longer.
The Minister for the Status of Women, Kellie Leitch, tweeted her support for the change on Friday afternoon. That means tampons and other female menstruation products will be now added to a list of 'essential' items that are exempt from federal tax.
Canada already exempts a whole bunch of non-menstruation related stuff that is deemed "essential."
Bread, milk, vegetables, eggs, grain, frozen sandwich meat, livestock, fish, prescription drugs, prosthetic legs, music lessons, condo fees, artificial teeth, car insurance, raw wool, candy, salt, coffee beans, Viagra, cherries, guide dogs, chocolate chips, cooking wines, wine-making kits, hearing aids, beer-making kits, unpopped popcorn kernels, bridge tolls, wedding cakes, and sperm (yes, sperm) are all free of federal taxes.
Tampons are not on that list.
So these women are trying to fix it.
They've teamed up with the NDP to have the federal government strip the five percent federal GST from all feminine hygiene products.
Ottawa would be following the example of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, who have already removed the provincial sales tax.
"This gender-based discrimination costs women more than $36 million every year," NDP Member of Parliament Irene Mathyssen said at a press conference in front of the Famous Five monument, commemorating women who fought for universal suffrage in Canada, on Parliament Hill.
Over 70,000 people have already signed a petition endorsing the idea of removing the tax.
A debate on the idea is coming up in the House of Commons today—the NDP are dedicating an opposition day to the concept, meaning that there will be a non-binding vote at the end. Mathyssen also introduced a private member's bill on the matter, one that has gotten little traction with the government.
Mathyssen says there's been "deafening silence" from the Conservative government on the issue, which usually isn't a good sign for opposition efforts. (A bill that would have created a national strategy to deal with dementia was shot down by one vote earlier this week.)
The one thing for sure is that, if the Conservatives vote to continue the menstruation tax, the blood will be on their hands.
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