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Hamilton’s free menstrual products pilot set to begin once COVID-19 lockdown ends

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

A pilot to address ‘period poverty’ and provide free menstrual products to low-income Hamiltonians is finally about to begin.

The pilot, which was approved by Hamilton city council last February, will see pads and tampons made available in women’s and universal washrooms at five different recreation centres across the city.

The products will also be distributed by local food banks through Hamilton Food Share.

Read more: Hamilton committee approves distribution plan for menstrual products for women in need

The pilot project has been delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of rec centres during the provincial lockdown, but a staff report presented at Thursday’s Emergency and Community Services committee meeting said implementation of the pilot will begin during the first quarter of 2021.

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Click to play video: 'Period poverty increasing during pandemic' Period poverty increasing during pandemic
Period poverty increasing during pandemic – Oct 10, 2020

Grace Mater, director of the city’s Healthy and Safe Communities department, said the pilot is essentially ready to go as soon as the lockdown comes to an end.

“We’re hoping that as we move through the first quarter and into the second quarter, as rec centres also reopen to the public … Food Share is all up and ready and raring to go on this pilot. And they have been an incredible help to us on it. So they’re really excited about the opportunity.”

Read more: Scotland becomes first country to make menstrual products freely available to all

An initial motion from Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson to provide free menstrual products in municipal buildings was voted down by city council back in 2019 due to concerns about high costs, but Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla later re-worked the motion so that it would focus specifically on low-income residents.

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Click to play video: 'What is period poverty? Study finds women under 25 struggling to afford menstrual products' What is period poverty? Study finds women under 25 struggling to afford menstrual products
What is period poverty? Study finds women under 25 struggling to afford menstrual products – May 29, 2018

Once the pilot is underway, period products will be made available at the following rec centres:

  • Dalewood Recreation Centre, 1150 Main St. West (Ward 1)
  • Dominic Agostino Riverdale Community Centre, 150 Violet Dr. (Ward 5)
  • Huntington Park Recreation Centre, 87 Brentwood Dr. (Ward 6)
  • Norman Pinky Lewis Recreation Centre, 192 Wentworth St. North (Ward 3)
  • Westmount Recreation Centre, 35 Lynbrook Dr. (Ward 8)

The estimated price tag of the pilot is $121,000, with the bulk of the funding going toward the strategy that will see menstrual products distributed through Hamilton Food Share’s existing network.

Staff will report back on the success of the program in early 2022.

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