The Ontario Government announced it will foot the bill for millions of menstrual products for schools across the province.
The Ministries of Education and Children and Women’s Affairs both announced on Friday that the government will distribute six million free menstrual products per year to school boards through a new partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. This deal comes after advocates pushed for free menstrual products to be provided in schools, saying they are a need.
“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.”
Beginning late fall this academic year, school boards will be provided with a steady supply, and the boards will determine the distribution of menstrual products based on local needs. Only pads will be provided for now, with further options expected in time.
According to the province, period poverty impacts the most vulnerable students and is a situation that has been exacerbated by increased financial pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who cannot afford menstrual products may experience a higher rate of absenteeism from school, challenges to engage fully in the classroom, and negative health effects, such as infections and toxic shock syndrome. It can also affect their social and emotional well-being.