As the House of Commons rises for the summer, the Trudeau government is scrapping all male and female washrooms on Parliament Hill and will replace them with “gender-neutral” washrooms. 

Under Minister of Public Services Jean-Yves Duclos’ direction, Parliament Hill will renovate the approximately 200 washrooms in Centre Block and the new welcome-centre to be more “accessible” and “inclusive.”

This initiative is part of the multi-billion dollar Centre Block rehabilitation project to restore and modernize Canada’s historic Parliament building.

Duclos says that the purpose of eliminating sex-separated washrooms was to meet the expectations of Canadians and adapt to the needs of the future.

“It’s a very broad message of inclusion,” said Duclos.

In a comment to the CBC, Public Service Pride – a group representing LGBTQ public servants – praised the renovations by the government, saying that this is “exactly how it should be.”

While the government is bringing radical reforms to washrooms on Parliament Hill, some feel that the government should do more in pushing gender-neutral washrooms.

NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway Don Davies presented a petition to the House of Commons calling the government to ban male-female washrooms in all federally regulated workplaces.

“Exclusionary washroom policies cause significant barriers for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people,” said Davies.

“Therefore they [the petitioners] call on the government to, among other things, amend the Canada Labour Code to require gender-inclusive washrooms in all federally regulated workplaces and to ensure that there is access to public washrooms for everyone in this country.”

However, not everyone is happy with the modernization plans being pursued by the government.

Esme Vee of Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights told True North that they are entirely opposed to gender-neutral washrooms, citing women’s right to privacy, safety, and dignity.

“This is a clear message that Parliament is anti-woman,” said Vee. “Our message back to Parliament is that women’s sex-based protections are guaranteed under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Vee went on to suggest that the government was foregoing its feminist credentials, and that a real “gender analysis” of the policy would have shown the harms women face in the abolition of male-female washrooms.

“In this case, the unintended consequence of “inclusive”, “gender-neutral” facilities is that females self-exclude for a variety of reasons,” said Vee. “For example, we’re seeing this with schools that have adopted unisex washrooms. There’s been an increase in urinary tract infections reported among girls due to holding their bladders for fear of encountering boys in the washroom.”

Vee said that the policy is opposed by the vast majority of women and is regressive.

“Inviting males into women’s washrooms is regressive, throwing us back 100 years to a time when women were excluded from fully participating in public life due to the “urinary leash”. This is a term which describes how women in their daily lives were only able to travel as far as their ability to use their toilet at home.”