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The provincial government will be providing free period products for Island students in a bid to reduce stigma and promote equity.
In a statement before the legislature, Natalie Jameson, minister responsible for the Status of Women, said access to period products is a struggle for many. She also said the measure was being pursued in order to promote equity.
"Any student will be able to access these products in their schools for free, no questions asked," Jameson said.
"Also, my department, through the inter-ministerial Women's Secretariat, will be providing tampons and pads to the P.E.I. Food Bank Association and the three shelters in the province for their clients."
The three shelters are:
- Blooming House in Charlottetown
- Anderson House in Charlottetown and
- Chief Mary Bernard House in Lennox Island.
Jameson said the initiative would be accompanied by a poster campaign directed at students at the junior high and high school level. In an interview, she estimated the initiative would cost the province around $15,000.
Jameson said her department was partly moved to undertake this initiative after the introduction of a Green motion introduced in the fall of 2019. The motion, Addressing Period Poverty, called for government to provide these products free of charge in schools and homeless shelters, but also to university and college students and to individuals at the province’s Women’s Correctional Unit.
Other districts in Canada have undertaken similar initiatives. British Columbia began offering period products free of charge to students and to several non-profits serving low-income clients in July 2019. Last year, the city of Sarnia, Ont. also began a six-month pilot project to provide free period products at several non-profits.
The announcement was greeted with approval from both the Opposition Green and Liberal bench.
“This is actually a great announcement,” Green MLA Hannah Bell told the House. "It's about dignity and equity. Dignity is not having to explain or seek permission. Equity is, this is available to anybody, regardless of their circumstances."
“This is actually a great announcement. It's about dignity and equity. Dignity is not having to explain or seek permission. Equity is, this is available to anybody, regardless of their circumstances."
- Green MLA Hannah Bell
Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly also supported initiative.
"There are many women and adolescents in our society who are unable to afford basic menstrual hygiene products. There is no need for shame attached to menstruation," he said
In an interview, Jameson said the suggestion to offer period products at post-secondary institutions was also welcome and would be considered. She said period products are currently offered to women for free at correctional facilities.
Stu Neatby is the political reporter for The Guardian.