QUEEN’S PARK — Marit Stiles, Ontario NDP Education critic, released the following response to the Ford government's announcement on free menstrual products in schools:
"Today's announcement is a victory for the students, organizations and school boards who have fought for years for governments to address the issue of period poverty and ensure no student ever faces embarrassment or misses school because of lack of access to menstrual products.
Credit goes to the initiative and courage of students like Maya Larrondo, a high school student who managed a 'period locker' at her Toronto high school and Hannah Legault, who ran the Red Box Project in Niagara; groups like Period Purse, Changing the Flow, Toronto Youth Cabinet and OSTA-AECO; as well as individual trustees and boards in Thames Valley, Toronto and Waterloo Region, who have worked tirelessly to end the stigma around menstruation and end barriers to access for these crucial products.
Ontario should have created this legislation years ago, following the leadership of provinces like B.C. and Nova Scotia. Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce could have passed my motion, tabled in the legislature in June 2019, to provide free menstrual hygiene supplies in all publicly funded schools – but they didn’t want to spend the money.
Today is an important step, but the government's plan doesn't go far enough. It fails to guarantee that all schools will get an adequate or dedicated supply of period products, and won't give students sufficient choice, offering only pads, but no tampons or cups. Choice is a critical factor in menstrual health an equity.
No student should have to miss school or face embarrassment due to a lack of menstrual products. Until tampons and pads are as readily available in all school washrooms as toilet paper and soap, the gaps in access and affordability will persist.
Ford and Lecce must listen to students and activists and expand this program to cover a range of menstrual products in every public-school washroom in Ontario, as well as expanding menstrual health education in schools."