Free menstrual products coming to OCDSB schools

·2 min read

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is set to become the first board in the city to offer free menstrual products in school washrooms.

Trustees have approved a plan to make tampons and sanitary pads available by September 2022.

Student trustee Joy Liu, a Grade 12 student at Colonel By Secondary School, called the initiative "straightforward, but also one of the most impactful ways [the board] can improve the lives of students."

Liu, who drafted the motion with fellow student trustee Charles Chen, said OCDSB students have shared stories about having to go home and miss class because they didn't have menstrual products on hand. Some said if there were tampons or sanitary pads available at school, they'd be able to focus better on their studies, Liu said.

The stories "really did demonstrate how common and universal this experience is for a lot of people," she said.

Liu and Chen said they consulted the student senate and LGBT student groups before presenting their motion to the board. They also collected 1,400 signatures from students calling for better access to menstrual products in schools.

The motion passed unanimously. An OCDSB spokesperson indicated the program will cost about $150,000 a year.

Sherry Wang
Sherry Wang

Other boards in Ontario including the Toronto District School Board, the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board in London already offer the products for free.

The menstrual products will also be available in male and gender-neutral washrooms at OCDSB schools. Liu said it was important to be inclusive.

"Because especially for these students, it can actually be harder for them to access your products like outside of like their home, especially if they're closeted, for example," she said. "So it was it was especially important that we include them."