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Free menstrual products coming to Richmond facilities

Richmond resident argues having menstrual products available is about gender equality.
Richmond will provide free menstrual products in most civic facilities.

Most Richmond public facilities will be getting free menstrual products.

This was the decision of council on Monday after an initial suggestion to have menstrual products in some facilities as a pilot project.

Instead, council asked city staff to come back with an implementation plan to have menstrual products available in most facilities.

Richmond resident Laura Greenwood, who approached Coun. Carol Day recently asking for the initiative, told council the issue is about equity, gender equality and dignity.

She pointed out other products, such as paper towels, toilet paper, soap and water, are provided automatically in all washrooms.

“Providing menstrual products sends a message to people who menstruate that their health and presence and participation in the community is valued and supported,” Greenwood told council.

The United Way approached the City of Richmond about 18 months ago asking for the city to come on board with the “Period Promise” campaign.

The non-profit talks about “period poverty,” a lack of menstrual products due to financial hardship.

About one-quarter of Canadian women have said they struggle to afford menstrual products.

Furthermore, according to a memo to council, 66 per cent say having their period has stopped them from fully participating in day-to-day activities.

Some people who can’t afford menstrual products, either use them longer than is recommended or use rags or newspaper, putting their health at risk.

The Richmond School District installed 261 menstrual product dispensers about a year ago, which cost $46,000 and $17,000 in supplies.

The menstrual products are expected to cost the school district about $10,000 to $12,000 per year moving forward.

Council voted unanimously for the motion at Monday’s committee meeting.

Staff will come back to council with an implementation plan and a budget.