New West eyes offering free menstrual products in city facilities

New Westminster is considering a proposal to provide free menstrual products in municipal facilities.

The United Way of the Lower Mainland is asking New Westminster city council to support its Period Promise campaign, which is working to increase access to menstruation products to vulnerable populations and to address period poverty.

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“Period poverty is the widespread lack of access to menstrual products due to financial limitations,” Michael McKnight, president and CEO of the United Way of the Lower Mainland, said in a letter to council. “It affects girls, women and trans folk around British Columbia, and it does so on a surprising scale. Almost one-quarter of Canadian women say they have struggled to afford menstrual products for themselves or their children, and more than 66 per cent say that periods have inhibited them from participating fully in the day-to-day activities of life.”

In June, Victoria announced it would begin providing free menstrual products in its publicly accessible facilities.

On Monday, New Westminster city council directed staff to report back about the cost and implementation of providing products at city facilities, including recreation spaces and libraries.  

Coun. Mary Trentadue acknowledged the work of the New Westminster school board, which was the first district in B.C. to install coin-free menstrual products in all of its schools.

“It was great and brilliant work,” she said. “I am more than pleased to refer this to staff to report back on making menstrual products available at our city facilities.”

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said menstrual products aren’t something men typically spend a lot of time thinking about. He recently heard a presentation about the Period Promise campaign and learned about the type of things that happen when those products aren’t available, such as people not attending school and missing out on their education.

“It is such a small cost,” he said. “It saves a person so much stress.”

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