Ontario Students Are Soon Getting Free Period Products At School & Welcome To 2021

The government has teamed up with Shoppers Drug Mart to make this happen.

Toronto Associate Editor
Ontario Students Are Soon Getting Free Period Products At School & Welcome To 2021

It's (finally) official: students across Ontario are going to have access to free period products right at school.

In a press conference on Friday, October 8, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced the provincial government's partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart that is making this possible.

"Today we're taking another very positive step forward, supporting the health and safety of students. Menstrual products are, of course, a necessity," Lecce said in the announcement.

"We know that [...] many barriers faced by students are not always visible to those around them, including people who would be willing to support them such as a parent or educator. Too often, young students, and girls specifically, suffer in silence, as this issue may not be one that they're comfortable identifying or talking about," Lecce later said. "And that makes access to menstrual products a fundamental issue of equity, of health, education and safety."

Shoppers Drug Mart will provide menstrual products at school washrooms over the next three years and will provide menstrual products to all school boards. They will also be installing 1,200 dispensers starting this fall, and over this period of time, will deliver 18 million period products.

This means each year, six million free periods, tampons, and other period products will be given to school boards across Ontario. Sanitary pads will be given out first, and tampons and other menstrual products will be given out later during the three-year period.

The period products will be available "principally" to high school students, but will also be available to elementary and middle school students who need them, Lecce said. School boards to decide where the free products will go based on need, he said.

The Toronto Youth Cabinet had written an open letter to Lecce on International Women's Day to address this issue of "period poverty" (the lack of easy access to free period products at schools).

"When people who menstruate don't have access to the resources and information to manage their periods safely and with dignity, they are more likely to miss school and work, face higher health risks, and struggle to reach their full potential," TYC wrote in the March 8 letter. "There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation. Menstrual products are a necessity and not a luxury."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor
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