Tampons and pads will soon be free in New West public schools


NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – New Westminster will become the first city in British Columbia, and in all of Canada, to offer free tampons and pads in public school bathrooms.

The school board debated the idea at a meeting Feb. 26 and the motion was passed.

Mark Gifford, Chair of the New Westminster School Board, says this is a common sense move.

“Speaking as a guy who has had my personal hygiene needs very well attended in public bathrooms, we haven’t extended the same kind of dignity and respect to women,” he says.

The idea came from Douglas College professor Selina Tribe, who pitched it to the school board. She says it’s an issue of equity.

“We don’t require boys to carry toilet paper with them, so it’s an issue of supporting girls as much as we support boys for normal bodily functions,” she told NEWS 1130. “Tampons and pads, having access to them is as essential as toilet paper for a normal bodily function that affects half the population.”

Tribe says most schools have dispensaries, but most of them charge students.

“We know that girls, if they can’t manage their periods properly, they will remove themselves from activities, from extracurricular or athletic activities, also social activities, and in the worst case, they will actually miss school if they cannot manage their period.”

Tribe calculates it would cost schools less than a $1 per student after the second year of installing the machines.

Gifford says the board will now look at advocating for a province-wide roll-out.

“It’s not something that has enjoyed much public conversation,” he says. “I think that’s a little bit of a reflection of some of the stigma that can be around having conversations about periods and menstruation and it was a common sense step for the board to take.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming wants to get some more information before committing to a full provincial program.

“We’ll wait and see what New Westminster has done,” he said today. “I’m sure that they’re getting some inquiries from other districts right now, about how they managed to create that program and how they’re administering it.”

The tampons will be available in elementary, middle and high schools in New Westminster, starting next school year.

With files from Sonia Aslam, Tom Walsh and Estefania Duran.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today