This was another issue that I know many Trustees wanted to see addressed but was stalled because of the Pandemic.
In 2019 I was approached by a number of students and staff members through the U of A School of Public Health, Students Invested in Health Association among others who requested that school boards provide menstrual products in washrooms on par with the provision of soap and toilet paper. Like many other items, the pandemic derailed our progress.
On Tuesday, April 13th as part of our annual budget process (see the distribution of funds report), I will be asking my colleagues to amend the budget for the deliberate inclusion of menstrual products in alignment with how soap, toilet paper, and other basic needs are provided. Anecdotally, I've heard widespread support from Trustees for this initiative.
- The Toronto District School Board began providing products in 2019 as well as London and Waterloo, Ontario
- In spring 2019, British Columbia also began providing products to students in schools
- Red Deer school boards are also providing free products
- The University of Alberta has also been providing product at Infolink and is in the process of providing dispensers on campus.
- Considering the City of Edmonton just initiated a change last week (April 2021) that products would be available in city washrooms
While we would need to work with the administration to examine how exactly the rollout should occur, this initiative is long overdue. I've spoken with the Student Advocates for Public Health who provided this image and press release from their event (April 6th, 2020). I also spoke with No woman without, period, who have done an enormous amount of advocacy and providing product through donations. I've also heard from staff members who have, for years, provided products out of their own pocket for students who have been discreetly advocating for this change to school budgets. I've heard from students and alumni of Edmonton Public Schools how important this initiative is and would contribute to creating a welcoming school environment for all.
I believe this is one of those areas where the board should not leave action up to individual site-based decisions. There should be a clear, consistent, and enforceable policy throughout the district, funded through on par with other necessities. I hope that this support from Edmonton Public Schools will catalyze further action from the provincial government to mandate (and fund) the provision of menstrual products in all schools on par with the provision of hand soap, toilet paper, and other necessities.