Menstrual products will soon be free in all B.C. schools, with additional products made available to people experiencing period poverty across the province, through a partnership with United Way and the Government of B.C.
It’s another profound impact related to United Way’s Period Promise campaign, presented by Pacific Blue Cross. The initiatives will reduce the vulnerability and isolation caused by period poverty.
Under a ministerial order that was issued Friday, April 5, 2019, 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 its 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 Minister Fleming.
“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.
“The inspiring support United Way’s Period Promise campaign has received demonstrates the impact we create when we mobilize to address issues in our own neighbourhoods,” said United Way British Columbia President & CEO Michael McKnight.
“I want to thank the Government of B.C. for its commitment to tackling period poverty, and thank the passionate individuals tackling vulnerability and isolation in all its forms, in our local communities.”
“The cost and availability of menstrual products is a real concern for those who are poor and often face the choice of purchasing those products or buying other essentials, like food,” added Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “I encourage other organizations to join our government in supporting United Way’s Period Promise campaign, to help end the stigma that causes social isolation, and begin to address that larger issue around affordability.”
“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 were improving access in schools and in communities. These actions are going to make a big difference in the lives of people who menstruate, and Im proud that our government is taking leadership on this issue.”
The United Way funding builds on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. In March 2019, the B.C. government released TogetherBC, the Provinces first Poverty Reduction Strategy. TogetherBC brings together investments from across government that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and cut child poverty in half, over the next five years.