Manitoba mulls making menstrual products available in schools for free
Province giving away 500 period packs to women's resource centres
The Manitoba government is considering making tampons and pads available in public schools for free.
Status of Women Minister Rochelle Squires shared the news on Thursday after question period, when she announced the province will hand out 500 period packs starting Friday for free to women's resource centres around the province.
Squires said the packs, which have free tampons, pads and deodorant will be given to nine different women's resource centres to help girls who can't afford the supplies. The packs come with a piece of chocolate and a little note of encouragement.
"The intent is really to destigmatize getting your period in the first place. We know that a lot of girls can't afford to have supplies on hand and that can lead to them missing school," Squires said.
The supply kits are being distributed to mark International Day of the Girl, but Squires says the PC government is considering going a step further and making free tampons and pads available to students in grades 7-12.
The minister estimates the commitment would cost the Manitoba government about $1 million annually. The province said the 500 packs being distributed on Friday will cost $4,500 to provide.
Manitoba's NDP promised to provide menstrual products in all schools for free during the recent provincial election.
NDP MLA Malaya Marcelino questioned Squires' math Thursday and said New Democrats estimate it would cost $300,000 per year to provide tampons and pads for students in grades 6 -12.
"That's significantly lower than the amount, that estimate, that they gave," she said.
Politics aside, both women agreed this is an important issue because far too many young women miss school due to their period, while others can't afford proper supplies.
"We know that girls often miss class because of their period and it's something our government is looking at," Squires said.
Earlier this year, the B.C. government announced all of its public schools would be required to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms. The products must be available by the end of 2019