A school board in Ontario will be the first of its kind by offering free menstrual products on all of its properties. Waterloo Region District School Board announced its plan to make products, such as pads and tampons, available for free in all schools and alternative education centres. As of the 2019-2020 school year, free menstrual products in Ontario schools will be available in the Waterloo region.
According to The Toronto Star, the board claims that 88 percent of high school students experience a lack of access to period products. This issue is actually known as "period poverty", as a result of the high costs associated with purchasing menstrual products.
The board confirmed that the free menstrual products will be available in the accessible, all-gender washrooms on school grounds.
Waterloo Region District School Board isn't the only organizing advocating for free menstrual products for all. In early May, the Canadian government proposed a policy to make tampons and pads free in workplaces under the government's jurisdiction.
Last month, the New Westminster School Board in British Columbia became the first school board in all of Canada to offer free menstrual products. Homeless shelters in Toronto have also decided to make free tampons and pads available in order to increase accessibility.
However, not everyone is on board with free menstrual products. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hamilton councillors voted against providing free menstrual products in some recreation centre and library bathrooms. The pilot project was intended to help end the stigma of menstruating by expanding the offer of free menstrual products to ultimately all "public-facing" municipal buildings, according to Coun. Maureen Wilson, who pitched the program to Hamilton's board of health.
But Waterloo Region District School Board believes that by making the products more available to all, students will benefit from a levelled playing field.
Director of Education John Bryant commented to The Toronto Star, "No student should have their learning disrupted because they cannot access products. Providing free products to students is one step towards menstrual equity, which will allow students to attend school physically and emotionally, without stigma or barriers."