On International Women’s Day, a New Westminster school trustee is calling for menstrual supplies to be provided in washrooms across Canada.
Trustee Anita Ansari raised her voice in support of an electronic petition that’s currently open for signatures. Petition e-3895 calls upon the government of Canada “to update the Occupational Health and Safety Code and the National Building Code to include menstrual supply dispensers and menstrual supplies in women's, universal and gender-neutral restrooms across Canada to support inclusion, mobility, reduce stigma, and promote gender equity.”
It was launched by Selina Tribe and is being championed by Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo (NDP).
Tribe, a Vancouver parent and Douglas College professor, made headlines in 2019 with her push to have period products provided in B.C. schools. The New Westminster school board made history that year for becoming the first school district in the province to provide coin-free dispensers for menstrual products in all of its schools.
Ansari, at the March 8 school board meeting, said she was excited to see Tribe’s petition make it to the official stage.
“I’m very excited that this petition is happening and that we will update the regulations that govern our restroom spaces,” she said.
Ansari said that, as a woman working in a technical field, she is familiar with the challenges of working with equipment and washrooms that aren’t designed for women.
She saluted her fellow female trustees in recognition of International Women’s Day, noting the strongly female composition of the current board; of the seven trustees, six are women.
“I don’t think we could have championed the things that we championed without the composition of this board,” she said.
Trustee Danielle Connelly echoed her sentiments.
“The composition of this board has certainly been inspirational on many levels,” she said, adding her thanks for the district staff who also help to guide the board. “Thank you for all the strong women who surround us.”
Menstrual supplies petition open for signatures until June 2
Tribe’s petition says the relatively low cost to provide menstrual supplies in workplace restrooms will be offset by “increased attendance, reduced workplace stress and improved performance of women at work.”
It also notes that the existing Canada Occupational Health and Safety Code and the National Building Code “regulate restrooms outside the home and currently specify toilet paper, soap, wash water, hand drying facilities, and urinals, the last clearly providing accommodation for men's convenience.”
It’s open for signatures until June 2.
To read a copy of the full text of the petition or to add your signature, visit the House of Commons petitions site.