“In Canada, one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they can’t afford or don’t have easy access to menstrual products.”
- Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean, BC parliamentary secretary for gender equity.
The BC government ditched taxes on tampons and other sanitary products in 2015, and on 5 April ordered public schools across British Columbia to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of this year.
What's the real 'cost-benefit' equation of axing tampon taxes?
Removing the 'tampon tax' cost the government an estimated $36 million in lost revenue, but there will be inter-generational social and economic profits resulting from making it more affordable and realistic for lower income women to be in work, and girls to get a higher education that will lift them, and their future families out of poverty long term.
Free menstrual products in BC Schools is an educational game-changer!
The government will provide $300,000 in start-up money so that districts can immediately provide the products in school washrooms.
Mitzi Dean said “Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple. This sets B.C. as a leader in fighting period poverty.”
“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they cant afford or don't have access to menstrual products. This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need - with no stigma, and no barriers.”
- Rob Fleming, Education Minister.
Tautoko Rob; we couldn't agree more.
Schools are supportive too, with Jordan Watters, chair of the the Greater Victoria school board, saying that although the district already provided free menstrual products through school offices, the board were looking at how to improve access, and are "really excited to see the government stepping up".
Grassroots funding & research into menstrual products
Applause also for the government allocating funding (CAD$95,000) to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies, and fund research into how best to provide menstrual services and products.
Supporting grass-roots charities and collating research helps build a sustainable, informed way forward, out of period poverty.
Period Poverty is all part of a bigger social and equality issue
The British Columbia government is also working big picture with TogetherBC, their first Poverty Reduction Strategy released in March, which has admirably ambitious goals for the next 5 years - to help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and reduce child poverty to half.
Alright New Zealand; let's see what we can do!