Schools across B.C. must carry free menstruation products for students by the end of 2019.
Education Minister Rob Fleming issued the ministerial order Friday, saying access to tampons and pads will help create a better learning environment.
“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products,” said Fleming.
“Our School District is in the process of developing consistent policies and procedures related to this ministerial order. In my experience, schools have always had these products available. It seems like this will make it easier for students to access the products discretely,” Craig McAulay, Principal – Houston Secondary and Twain Sullivan Elementary School.
The province announced $300,000 in startup funding for B.C.’s 60 school districts to install dispensary machines in washrooms.
The government also announced a one-time grant of $95,000 to support a United Way initiative that provides menstruation products for up to 10 non-profit agencies.
We did it! Government of B.C. just announced free menstrual products will come to all B.C. schools. Now youth can focus on their education, instead of struggling with period poverty. We're proud that #periodpromise could help create change on such a fundamental level. @BCGovNews pic.twitter.com/4AHWfxewY1
— United Way (@UWLM) April 5, 2019
One in seven Canadian girls have missed school because of their menstrual cycle, according to the United Way, often because of stigma or the lack of access to pads and tampons.
“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, said in a news release.
In February, New Westminster’s school board voted unanimously to provide free products for students.
At the time, they estimated that the total cost would be roughly $9,700 for installing dispensary machines, with an annual cost of $7,000 for supply.
They also estimated 2,800 tampons and 1,800 pads would be used across 13 schools each year.