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Shoppers Drug Mart partners with Ontario to fight period poverty

Shoppers Drug Mart will donate menstrual pads as part of a new program to provide free menstrual products in Ontario schools

The Ontario government and Shoppers Drug Mart are partnering to distribute free menstrual products in schools.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said it's an important step for the health and safety of students.

"Menstrual products are, of course, a necessity, not a luxury,'' he said.

"For women and girls, ensuring that they have access to these products is key for their health and successful participation within the school. But the reality is that some students cannot afford or access them, and this creates barriers.''

Lecce said Ontario joins British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island in making the move to fight period poverty.

Six million free menstrual products per year will be provided to school boards, which will then decide how they get distributed within their local schools.

Shoppers Drug Mart is donating all of the pads; Lecce said tampons aren't part of the program at the moment.

Keith Baybaylon, president of the Ontario Student Trustees' Association, says menstrual equity is a human rights issue and the announcement will help students feel more included in the community.

"No student should have to worry about whether or not they have access to products,'' he said.

"They already have so much on their plates and the lack of access should not be a burden on them.''

The NDP applauded the announcement, but said it should have come earlier and should have included tampons and menstrual cups.

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