Halifax libraries to offer free tampons, pads in every bathroom
'The library is making history,' says Nova Scotia anti-poverty activist Jodi Brown
Halifax Public Libraries will soon offer free menstrual products in all its bathrooms at its 14 branches, joining efforts across Canada to supply them for anyone needing them.
Anti-poverty activist Jodi Brown said she was thrilled when she heard the news in a meeting at a library last week.
"I couldn't get the smile off my face. It's an amazing feeling to know that people who menstruate now don't have to struggle," said Brown.
"The library is making history. It's a great start for the rest of the province."
She said offering the products makes things simple for anyone needing them.
"They don't have to out themselves, they don't have to embarrass themselves," said Brown. "Now they can just go to the bathroom. If they need it, it's there."
Halifax Central Library manager Sharon Haley-Mancini said she's proud of Halifax Public Libraries for making the products available to everyone.
"We recognize it's not just a women's issue. This is an issue that affects everybody. This is an issue that affects transgender individuals," said Haley-Mancini.
Halifax Public Libraries decided to make tampons and pads free in light of library patrons asking staff and other patrons for products.
"We wanted to do what we could to address the issue and we wanted to do it in a way so that people could have dignity," said Haley-Mancini. "I think it's sometimes embarrassing to ask somebody for a product."
The cost will become part of the library system's operating budget, she said.
Brown has been advocating to fix "period poverty" since 2015, when she started receiving income assistance and couldn't afford menstrual products.
She used toilet paper instead of pads at the beginning and end of her menstrual cycle to cut back on the cost.
Being open about the issue will help to fix it, said Brown.
"I'm in the streets and I have people coming up to me talking about their period and the struggles."
Brown would like to see free menstrual products in all public and workplace bathrooms across Nova Scotia.
"It's just like toilet paper and soap," she said. "It's essential. It should be in the bathrooms [and be] free."
Brown and other women began pushing to get tampons and pads funded for income assistance recipients.
PC MLA Karla MacFarlane introduced a private member's bill to amend the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act earlier this year.
A growing movement
Here's a rundown of other efforts to offer free menstrual products:
- In May, the Canadian government proposed workers in federally regulated workplaces have access to free menstrual products.
- Two Dartmouth, N.S., pharmacies recently began offering them.
- Last year, Mount Saint Vincent University began offering free tampons and pads on campus.
- In British Columbia, all public schools are required to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms by the end of 2019.
- By this fall, schools in Ontario's Waterloo District School Board will make menstrual products free for students, as well.
With files from Shaina Luck