At an upcoming Vancouver city council meeting, two councillors will introduce a motion to supply free menstrual products at community centres, pools and other civic facilities.
If council votes yes, Vancouver could be on the way to following in the City of Victoria's footsteps. In June 2019, B.C.'s capital voted to provide free pads and tampons at city facilities like pools, city hall and downtown public washrooms.
The motion comes out of a recommendation from the city's Women's Advisory Committee, and is part of a growing movement to provide menstrual products for free in schools and public bathrooms. In B.C., the United Way has started a campaign called Period Promise to raise awareness that many women struggle to pay for menstrual products.
That struggle can keep women away from work and school, says the United Way, which started fundraising for menstrual products for low-income women in 2017.
The Vancouver city council motion has been brought forward by OneCity Coun. Melissa De Genova and independent Coun. Rebecca Bligh, and calls for council to direct Vancouver city staff to "explore a plan for providing free menstrual products in civic facilities." It follows a motion passed by the Vancouver Park Board on Feb. 10 to establish a free menstrual products policy.
The council motion doesn’t include an estimate of what it would cost the city to stock bathrooms with complimentary pads and tampons, but notes that the B.C. government recently budgeted $300,000 for startup funding to help public schools provide free menstrual products.
The motion also suggests staff should be directed to "consider funding initiatives including, but not limited to, partnerships with manufacturers of menstrual products, non-profit organizations and funding available from senior governments."
Proponents of providing free menstrual products in bathrooms argue that they are just as necessary as providing soap and toilet paper.