Ontario Launches Free Menstrual Products in Schools Initiative

October 22, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By August Bettinelli

A survey conducted by Plan International Canada indicates that 63 per cent of women and girls have missed activity due to inadequate access to menstrual products or facilities, and 34 per cent have had to sacrifice something in their budget to afford items. 

In other words: “period poverty” is a prevalent issue.

To combat this; Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced Oct. 8 that the Province will be providing school boards with 6 million free menstrual products annually, which will be distributed based on need. This is being made possible through a partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart, starting in the late fall of this school year,

“Through the strong advocacy of young leaders in our schools, it has become extremely clear that menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury,” said Minister Lecce. “This agreement will help remove barriers for women and girls by allowing them to access products at school, free of charge. It is another important way that we are helping to build more inclusive schools that empower all girls to have the confidence to succeed.”         

This initiative makes Ontario one of four provinces taking action against insufficient menstrual resources available to those in school.

“Inequitable access to period products, particularly for students, can lead to missed opportunities — school, work, and other activities — and creates barriers to success,” said Jeff Leger, President of Shoppers Drug Mart. “This donation will provide thousands of students in Ontario with free access to period products, thousands who won’t have to make that difficult choice. We are proud to be a part of this initiative, and grateful to our stores, our partners, and our customers for their support.”

Students who are vulnerable to this situation, especially throughout the pandemic, are more likely to experience health issues such as infection, or even toxic shock syndrome. 

Therefore, availability will help to reduce the odds of health issues that may occur due to limited access or unsanitary period supplies.

Statistics show social stigma surrounding a woman’s menstrual cycle continues to be a problem, despite growing public conversation on the issue: in fact, 41 per cent of women and girls have admitted to being teased because of it.

“Our government is committed to reducing stigma and removing barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their full potential. Ensuring that menstrual products are free and readily available to students who need them will help create more equitable environments in our schools,” says Jane McKenna, who is the Province’s acting Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.

Ultimately, the move to free menstrual products in Ontario’s schools is intended to help those without access and reduce stigma.

The 6 million free menstrual products will be distributed to schools across Ontario later this fall.

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