Mac student starts group advocating for tax-free hygiene products

Sarah O’Connor
Staff Reporter

University classes encourage students to think critically and advocate for what they believe in. But for one Mac student, this advocacy continues outside the classroom.

Olivia Fasullo, a first-year student, noticed while working at part-time at Fresh Co. that GST was being placed on diapers, formula and feminine hygiene products while ice cream, coffee and other dessert items were tax free. This inspired Fasullo into starting a petition to eliminate the GST from all formula, diapers, and feminine hygiene products, because they are a necessity and right to all women and babies in Canada.

Having originally pursued the subject as an independent project in her Women’s Studies class, Fasullo has been hard at work to move her petition beyond the classroom.

Her activist group is called Tax Free Timbits, inspired by the fact that Timbits are tax-free while feminine hygiene products, formula and diapers aren’t. She has contacted numerous MPs and MPPs seeking support, and got Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina to sign her petition.

By Oct. 25, Fasullo had around 150-200 signatures and hopes to expand that to 5,000-10,000 signatures. While she has had luck in McMaster community some surprising obstacles have attempted to block her way.

“One person tried to make it a class issue saying that ‘maybe for poor women this is an issue but for rich women I don’t feel bad that they have to pay tax because they can afford it,’” Fasullo explained of one person who refused cheapest viagra prices to sign her petition.

“I said that rich men can pay for tax on their coffee, but don’t, so it’s not really a class issue, [but] an issue of dignity and necessity.”

Fiona Gordon, another first-year student helping with the petition, speculated as to why there was low student support.

“Perhaps they don’t understand the further implications of our goals,” she said.  “Perhaps they think that our goal is narrow and has negative implications of other aspects of the economy.”

On Oct. 19, Fasullo attended the leadership conference hosted by the Hamilton Young Liberals at McMaster and was able to speak with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Fasullo explained the petition to Wynne, who stated that she didn’t think it was appropriate to sign.

“The idea to have politicians sign the petition is more difficult than I assumed,” Fasullo said.

“I naïvely thought that perhaps this issue was simply overlooked which may not be the case. But some politicians simply don’t want to sign it simply for putting their name on it.”

If Fasullo can get up to 5,000-10,000 signatures for her petition, it may be read at the House of Commons.

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