Liberal party makes youth wellness priority during Grand Falls-Windsor campaign stop

·3 min read

The Liberal bus rolled into Grand Falls-Windsor on Wednesday as the leadup to the 2021 provincial election kept moving.

In the shadow of that bus and flanked by Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans candidate Debbie Ball and Exploits candidate Rodney Mercer, Liberal Leader Andrew Furey unveiled another part of the Liberal party’s campaign platform.

In particular, the Liberals pledged to provide feminine hygiene products in schools at no cost.

“There is good evidence that young women will miss school because they don’t have access to feminine care products,” said Furey. “One in seven Canadian young women, or non-binary individuals, will miss school because they do not have access to feminine care products.

“That is simply not good enough and this Liberal government intends to make sure that is not a barrier to young women and non-binary individuals from reaching their full potential. That is the commitment we’ve made today.”

Before making the announcement, the Liberals consulted with local women’s organizations, and hope this will alleviate the access problems that exist around these products.

The move to provide free feminine hygiene products was a part of a larger commitment to work with various community groups, educators and students to improve the health curriculum in the province.

Furey said the cost of having these products available in schools would be found within the health-care budget.

“The cost will be found within the health-care budget, but the cost of not having them is young women and non-binary individuals missing school is far greater than the cost accrued to the system for this,” he said.

Terri Lynn Burry said Wednesday's announcement is an important one for young women in the province.

“I think it is amazing and I think it should be done,” said Burry, program director for the Youth 2000 Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor. “We would definitely look at it for the centre.”

In her work, Burry is often asked for hygiene products by the girls and families who use the centre.

There are times when families can’t afford them and instead go without them, and that’s why the centre has products on hand, she said.

Burry said it can be embarrassing for girls to ask for products if they don’t have any on hand, and they often find it difficult.

“It is something that should be readily available. It is something that is a necessity and if it was readily available there wouldn’t be such a stigma attached to it sometimes, especially for young children,” she said. “It is new to them and it is embarrassing for some of them.”

During the stop, the premier was asked about some health-care issues that pertain to residents in central Newfoundland.

Namely, he was questioned about where his government stands with issues such as returning 24-hour emergency services to the hospital in Botwood, as well as supporting the Lionel Kelland Hospice in Grand Falls-Windsor.

In both instances, he maintained the government is working toward solutions for both.

“We’re aware of the issues and we’re committed to building on the commitments of the past,” said Furey.

Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice