The BC government says it is providing $750,000 to expand access to free menstrual products for people who need them and to help United Way establish a task force to look at how to end the ” menstrual poverty.
Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, said half of people who menstruate in British Columbia have struggled to buy the products they need at some point in their lives.
He told a news conference on Friday that no one should have to stay home from work or school because they can’t afford menstrual products or choose between paying for them. hygiene and essentials such as food.
Asked about previous calls for the province to make menstrual products available in places such as schools, workplaces, pharmacies and government offices, Simons said there was a big difference between having the products available at home and having to access them in public spaces.
He said previous research has shown that limited access to menstrual products means people are likely to stay home, and the task force will look at where the most effective places might be to make the products available.
United Way’s Neal Adolph said half of the funding that is expected to last two years will go to the task force, and the other half will support the organization’s work to increase access to menstrual products across British Columbia.
The period poverty task force is due to deliver a final report in March 2024.
The task force will be chaired by Nikki Hill, who previously worked on a provincially-funded research project with the United Way looking at the impact that a lack of access to menstrual products can have on a person’s life.
“Before we started some of this work, we had no idea how common this was for people in our communities,” Hill said at the press conference.
She said the task force will seek to create equity for these people.
Students have had access to free menstrual products in B.C. public school washrooms since 2019, the Department of Social Development said.