Volume 95, Issue 85

Thursday, March 14, 2002
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Mulroney's baby annoys again

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Mulroney's baby annoys again

Although generations of women have paid tax on a product essential to their daily lives, the New Democratic Party has recently hatched plans to stop the bleeding.

The NDP suggests forcing women to pay the goods and services tax on feminine hygiene products is "discriminatory" because such products are a basic necessity and there exists no comparable product for men.

Over the course of their adult lifetime, it is estimated women will pay $350 dollars in GST on products necessary for them to maintain a hygienic life. Granted, this is not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things – the issue at hand is more about principal. Women must pay tax on a product that only members of their gender need and they have no other option than to buy. Does this really sound fair?

Absolutely not.

In a country like Canada, with vast but costly social programs, one must accept taxes are a necessity. However, an exception should certainly occur when gender begins to determine how much tax a person pays.

Women have no control over the hormonal cycles of their body. With that in mind, why should they ever pay more taxes than men?

Sure, men – and all people for that matter – have unavoidable expenses in life. Tax breaks are already given on products that are deemed essential by the government. Staple foods like bread and milk, prescription druds, medical devices, diapers, baby formula and children's clothing are examples of goods that elude the far-reaching hand of the GST – and for good reason.

They are not luxury items people are spending frivolously on – they are products that are in high demand for legitimate reasons by all people, regardless of gender.

One of the first things people claim with an exception like this is the proverbial slippery slope. The simple logic goes – when one tax break is given, others cannot be far behind. This argument should in no way, shape or form factor into this debate.

What possible domino effect could result from women being granted a tax break on the one product that is unique to their budget?

There is no grounds for justifying a tax break proposal for anything other than pads and tampons on the basis that it's a gender-unique necessity because no similar product exists. Hygiene products like deodorant, shaving cream and toilet paper are universal so taxing them balances out, but women must buy additional personal necessities that set them apart from men. And it is those products that should not be taxed.

The easiest way to understand the injustice of taxing feminine hygiene products is to think of it this way – a man and a woman could lead parallel lives, eat the same food, pay the same rent and drive the same car, but women, solely because of gender, will be taxed more heavily because of hygienic necessity.

Asking women to pay more taxes than men for the way they were born? That is the very definition of discrimination.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002