B.C. government will require public schools to provide free menstrual products in washrooms by end of 2019

Click to play video: 'Free menstrual products to be available in B.C. Schools'
Free menstrual products to be available in B.C. Schools
WATCH: In a move advocates say is long overdue, the NDP government has announced that by the end of this year, free menstrual products will be available in all B.C. schools. Catherine Urquhart has the details – Apr 5, 2019

The B.C. government will require all public schools in the province to provide free menstrual products in school washrooms.

British Columbia will become the first provincial government to offer free tampons and pads in women’s and universal washrooms in elementary, middle, and high schools.

“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,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

WATCH: The province announces free menstrual products to school washroom across B.C.

Click to play video: 'Free menstrual products coming to B.C. school washrooms'
Free menstrual products coming to B.C. school washrooms

“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.”

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The New Westminster School Board had previously announced plans to offer the products in local schools starting in September. The provincial government originally said they wanted to wait and see how New Westminster’s initiative went before trying out the free service in schools across the province.

Schools have vending machines that sell pads and tampons in bathrooms, but there are some students who cannot afford to buy them. Other schools offer free products but students need to speak with a counsellor or teacher during the day in order to access them.

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The provincial government will provide $300,000 to help school districts comply by the end of the year. The ministry says it will look at the needs of each school district and ensure they have the funding needed to meet this new requirement.

The government is also providing $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 to those who need them.

“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,” Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson said.

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A survey from Procter & Gamble found that one in seven Canadian girls have missed school because they couldn’t get a tampon or pad during their period.

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