A new grant is expanding access to free tampons and pads across the province, as part of a research project to see how widespread “period poverty” is in B.C.
United Way and the province announced Wednesday that it will be giving a one-time $95,000 to 12 non-profit agencies in order to provide free menstrual products to those in need starting now until July 2020.
While an estimated one in seven Canadian girls have missed school because of their menstrual cycle, according to the United Way, there are few statistics that share how many are impacted by a lack of access to pads or tampons outside of the school system.
Non-profits who participate in the project will track the number of people served and which products are used, as well as how the lack of access to menstrual products because of financial limitations, dubbed “period poverty,” has impacted their lives.
“Our central hypothesis is that this is a bigger issue than we know,” Neal Abolth, internal project lead, said during a news conference in Vancouver.
“If we are able to find good data that says because I have this product I am able to find more regular employment, or take my child to the library, that’s the kind of stuff we would work with.”
The organizations who will be using the grant include:
- Cranbrook - Community Connection Society of Southeastern BC
- Victoria - Victoria Youth Empowerment Society
- Victoria - Society of St Vincent de Paul
- Powell River - Powell River Action Centre Society
- Prince George - Prince George Sexual Assault Centre Society
- Prince Rupert - North Coast Community Services
- Nanaimo - Nanaimo Women’s Centre
- Hope - Hope and Area Transition Society
- Surrey - Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre
- Vancouver - Kiwassa Neighbourhood House
- Vancouver - RayCam Community Centre
- Kelowna - Living Positive Resource Centre
The research project comes after the B.C. government announced in April that it will be mandatory for schools to carry free menstruation products for students by the end of the year. It also is in tandem with TogetherBC, the province’s poverty reduction strategy announced earlier this year.
Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson said that the data collected will be shared with the province at the end of 2020 and be used to develop more permanent policies.