Under a new order, schools across the province of BC will now be required to provide free menstrual products for their students in all bathrooms. This new rule has been made effective as of today on April 5, 2019. This means that BC is the first province in Canada to require all schools to offer free tampons and pads to students.
The government of BC made the announcement today. According to News 1130, a couple of months ago, a BC school district, New Westminister, became the first city in all of Canada to offer free menstrual products in the bathrooms of all the public schools in the area. Based on this, it looks like BC is now the first in Canada to make this mandatory for all schools in the province.
In issuing this new regulation, Education Minister Rob Fleming said that it was time to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools. According to Fleming, this would help create a better learning environment for all students in BC.
Current research states that one in seven students has to miss school due to their periods because they can not afford the product. It is thought that this number could be even higher for young trans people who face additional challenges in accessing menstrual products.
“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.
Fleming goes on to note that this a “common-sense step forward” and is long overdue in BC. Normalizing menstruation and offering free products will be one step forward is breaking down barriers and ending the stigma.
This ministerial order will go into effect immediately but will give schools until the end of 2019 to comply. In order to make this happen, a $300,000 provincial startup fund has been allotted. Over the next several months, the ministry plans to continue to work with school districts and education partners to identify gaps and ensure that funding is met.
In addition to this, the government of BC will be providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project. This will go to fund menstrual products for up to 10 no-profit agencies as well as research into how to provide the best services and products for those who need them.
“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.
“Menstrual products should be available to people when and where they need them, which is why we’re improving access in schools and in communities. These actions are going to make a big difference in the lives of people who menstruate, and I’m proud that our government is taking leadership on this issue.”
This new ministerial order comes after the first school board in BC made it mandatory for their education system to offer free pads and tampons. Up until now, New Westminster was the first and only school district in BC breaking down this barrier by offering to free sanitary products to their students.