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Schools to be required to provide free menstrual products for students

Under a ministerial order that was issued Friday, April 5 all B.C. public schools will be required to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019.

In issuing the order, Education Minister Rob Fleming said it’s time to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools, helping to create a better learning environment for students.

“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, adding that current research indicates that one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they cannot afford products.

“This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need with no stigma and no barriers.”

The ministerial order – which takes effect immediately but allows districts until the end of 2019 to comply – comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding. Over the coming months, the ministry will continue to work with school districts, community and education partners to look at the needs of each district, identify gaps and ensure they have the funding needed to meet this new requirement.

In addition, government is also providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies and research into how best to provide services and products for people who menstruate.

Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, volunteer co-chair of United Way’s Period Promise campaign –

Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, volunteer co-chair of United Way’s Period Promise campaign –

“The community and government response to the issue of period poverty has been incredible,” said Sussanne Skidmore, BC Federation of Labour, volunteer chair of United Way’s Period Promise campaign. “The hundreds of thousands of donated menstrual products we’ve received will make a concrete difference in people’s lives, and with support from the government of B.C., we can also create change on a wider scale, long-term.”