Thu. May 19th, 2022

TORONTO – Students across Ontario will have access to free menstrual products this fall after the Doug Ford government partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to give students fair access to the important hygiene article, CTV News Toronto has learned.

The program, which will be announced by Education Stephen Lecce today, will see hygiene pillows distributed to school boards across the province, which can then be accessed by students in school laundry rooms for free.

Sources within the Ministry of Education say the three-year deal will mean that Shoppers Drug Mart will pick up the cost of the menstrual products and any dispensers required in student bathrooms, while school boards are responsible for deciding which schools will be prioritized for the products to ensure a reasonable distribution.

CTVNewsToronto.ca will stream Lecce’s announcement live at 9

Ontario is far from the first province to make menstrual products available to students for free.

Since 2019, the governments of British Columbia and Nova Scotia announced similar programs, while Prince Edward Island began offering the products to school-age children in 2020.

Shoppers Drug Mart

However, the need for free period products in Ontario was highlighted by a number of groups – including the four main education associations, the People for Education, the Toronto Youth Cabinet and the Ontario Human Rights Commission – who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Doug Ford in March highlighting the impact of inequality access.

People who cannot access menstrual products “are more likely to miss school and work and face greater health risks” the groups argued, saying that everyone should be able to focus on their education without having to worry about access to tampons, pillows and other menstrual Products.

The Toronto District School Board, announcing its own free mensural product program in 2019 in partnership with Brands Canada, wrote its own letter to Lecce asking for a provincially funded program for all 72 school boards in Ontario.

TDSB chairman Alexander Brown said in some cases that menstrual products were only delivered to students upon request “invading students’ privacy,” and when the products were donated by charities, the board was left with limited supplies.

Sources in the Ministry of Education said that while the program begins with period blocks for the initial phase of the three-year program, the government will eventually expand the program to include tampons and other necessary items.

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