Edmonton will provide free menstrual products in city buildings by June 16

Click to play video: 'The City of Edmonton will soon offer free period products'
The City of Edmonton will soon offer free period products
By June 16, the City of Edmonton will make tampons and other menstrual products available for free at all city-owned bathrooms. Sarah Komadina has more. – Apr 9, 2021

Following a campaign by No Woman Without, Period and a pilot project, the City of Edmonton will be offering free menstrual products in all women’s and gender-inclusive washrooms in city-owned facilities.

Campaign founder Scarlet Bjornson didn’t expect the decision but was thrilled to receive a call from Councillor Andrew Knack on Thursday.

“They just decided this was the right thing to do,” Bjornson said.

“I’m elated, overwhelmed, excited, thrilled — all of the positive emotions you can feel. Motivated, did I say that?”

The No Woman Without, Period campaign started in 2017.

“We saw that providing the menstrual products to different organizations was a really good first step but we wanted to focus on making the change at our local governments,” Bjornson said.

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Click to play video: 'Period poverty increasing during pandemic'
Period poverty increasing during pandemic

The team has been working with several councillors, including Knack, Sarah Hamilton and Aaron Paquette, for years, Bjornson said, thanking them for their support.

“What this means for people who experience menstruation is the ability to roam and be in the community is now feasible,” Bjornson explained.

These products are expensive and for some they’re unattainable.

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“To know that those issues are covered and those products will be available for them so that they can be in those spaces, it makes the community more accessible.”

Edmonton’s pilot began in 2019, councillor Bev Esslinger said, and the supplies will be in place no later than June 16.

“We’ve done a pilot project in the city and we found out that it was important to have access. And really, as part of our gender equality work, this is an extension,” Esslinger said. “I’m really excited.”

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“We know that a third of Canadians under 25 struggle in this area to get adequate resources,” Esslinger said.

“We provide soap and paper towels, so it seems like a natural thing that we should provide some basic necessities as well.”

Bjornson said she didn’t expect the campaign would make so much progress in just four years.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton will provide free menstrual products in city buildings by June 16'
Edmonton will provide free menstrual products in city buildings by June 16

“This motivated us to go to the province, and go other cities and even go to the country and say: ‘It’s time to have this conversation really, really loud.’

“In the coming months, we would love to see a big wave of red across our country where cities just decide… this is the right thing to do.”

No Woman Without, Period is urging people to write letters of advocacy to their councillors, MLAs and MPs, pushing for an end to period poverty.

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Amanda Cardinal has experienced that first hand. She was living on the street this time last year.

When she needed supplies, while living on street, she was faced with a difficult decision.

“To tell you the truth, I had to go steal it. I had nowhere else to go.”

Click to play video: 'Charity provides menstrual products for Indigenous girls and women'
Charity provides menstrual products for Indigenous girls and women

Last February, the Scottish parliament became the first nation in the world to make sanitary products freely available to all women.

The legislation made products such as tampons and sanitary pads free for all women in Scotland, available at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
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Esslinger stressed gender equality is not in place throughout the world yet.“We’re working towards it and the city is committed to keep looking forward,” she said.“We want to have a city where women can freely go anywhere they want, and they can feel safe and have what they need.”

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