A new ministerial order means feminine hygiene products will once again be stocked in girls washrooms — this time free of charge.
School District 73 is looking forward to providing improved access now that the province has ordered all B.C. public schools to provide free menstrual products in washrooms by the end of 2019.
SD73 already offers the products for free, but only when requested at a school or counselling office.
Kamloops-Thompson school board chair Kathleen Karpuk told KTW the change means girls in SD73 can access the products discretely.
“Students won’t have to ask for them,” she said.
Education Minister Rob Fleming issued the order, which comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding.
In the coming months, the ministry plans to examine the needs of each district, identify gaps and ensure they have the funding needed to meet the new requirement.
SD73 director of instruction Trish Smillie said district schools receive the feminine hygiene products free of charge from major drugstore brands, so she doesn’t anticipate the order will have much of a change locally.
“With the new ministerial order, we anticipate the menstrual products will just be available more consistently,” Smillie said.
She said schools in SD73 previously had paid tampon dispensers, but those machines are either no longer stocked or have been removed from the bathrooms altogether.
Smillie anticipates the school district’s share of the $300,000 will go toward conducting an inventory of washrooms and assessing how best to offer feminine hygiene products in all facilities.
“From there, that seed money will be used for any kind of capital adjustments we need,” she said.
Smillie said the government is providing districts with information regarding the types of inventory schools can bring in to dispense menstrual products without charge.
“It’s time to have the stigma and inconvenience and cost removed around students having their periods,” Smillie said.
“Now they’ll have consistent free access with a reduction of the barriers — they won’t have to go to the office to get them.”
The most recent Always Confidence and Puberty Survey revealed one in seven Canadian girls have either left school early or missed class entirely because they did not have access to menstration products — due to cost or means of access.
"Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can't afford or don;t have access to mentrual products," said Flemming in a press release.