Ontario announced that it would be providing schools with menstrual products for students in a partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart.
The province says that the program aims to reduce barriers in education for students who require menstrual products and to put an end to period poverty in Ontario. For now, the program is only providing pads to schools.
Shoppers Drug Mart has committed to providing 18 million pads to the Ontario government over three years. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that they would take feedback from students throughout the duration of the program and determine if the province should add other free menstrual products like tampons.
- You might also like:
- Ontario is publicly sharing school-related COVID-19 cases again
- Ontario increasing funding for Indigenous-focused curriculum in schools
- Ontario to deploy rapid COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated students
“This is sort of our first phase of this initiative, and we hope to continue it expand upon it and build upon the work we’ve done today,” Lecce said at a press conference.
A survey conducted by Plan International Canada found that 63% of people who menstruate miss out on activities over access to period products and proper facilities. The same survey showed that 34% had to sacrifice something else in their budget in order to purchase period products.
“No student should have chemist school because they do not have access to menstrual products. This creates a major barrier and providing an equal playing field. Our government is committed to reducing stigma and removing barriers, surrounding periods so that every student can live up to their full potential,” Jane McKenna, Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, said at a press conference.
Ontario is the fourth province to offer such a program to students. Governments in BC, Nova Scotia, and PEI also provide free menstrual products to schools. Ontario’s program is set to begin this fall.
Some Ontario school boards had already introduced free menstrual product programs. Toronto District School Board began providing free menstrual products in their elementary and high schools in 2019.
Shoppers Drug Mart will provide six million menstrual products to the province per year for the next three years. Pads will be given to all Ontario school boards, which will then determine how to distribute them.
Lecce said that priority would be with high schools as they anticipate the most demand there. However, elementary and middle schools will also receive menstrual products.