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B.C. public schools required to offer free menstrual products by end of year

Last Updated Apr 5, 2019 at 1:05 pm PDT

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Feminine hygiene products will soon be available in all public schools around the province, free of charge.

The province announced Friday all public schools will be required to offer free-of-charge menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019. The program is receiving an initial $300,000 for schools to install machines and is expected to receive the same amount of funding on an annual basis.

According to the province, one in seven students has had to miss school because of a lack of access to menstrual products.

The province is also putting $95,000 tax dollars into a one-time grant to the United Way for its Period Promise Research Project, which will be used to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit groups and research into how to provide the products to those who need them.

Minister of Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson says the funding is part of the province’s recently released Poverty Reduction Strategy. 

RELATED: United Way puts spotlight on tampons, pads for women and girls who struggle to afford it

Rebecca Ballard, a New Westminster Secondary Grade 11 student, says she’s seen friends miss school because they couldn’t afford or access period products.

“It is something that is kind of awkward to talk about so it’s nice to have it in the bathroom instead of having to go to a teacher, or a friend, or someone you might not feel comfortable asking.”

Rebecca Ballard (right), is a New Westminster Secondary Grade 11 student. (Lasia Kretzel/NEWS 1130)

This comes after New Westminster’s school board decided to become the first city in B.C. — and all of Canada — to offer tampons and pads free of charge in bathrooms at all public schools. Since then, several other school districts have said they’re looking into doing the same thing.

The Douglas College professor who pitched the idea to the New Westminster School board had estimated the move will cost schools in that city less than $1 per student, after the second year of installing the machines.

-With files from Denise Wong and The Canadian Press