Eas­ier access to hy­giene prod­ucts

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News

BY TARA MACDON­ALD

Staff At last week’s coun­cil meet­ing, South Glen­garry coun­cil mem­bers dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing free men­strual prod­ucts in mu­nic­i­pal fa­cil­i­ties.

The motion by Coun­cil­lor Stephanie Ja­worski was well re­ceived by coun­cil­lors who called for a staff re­port out­lin­ing the costs of vend­ing ma­chines of­fer­ing free men­strual prod­ucts in se­lect public parks and recre­ation cen­tres.

“I be­lieve that they should be in­stalled in all our recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties, parks, et cetera. I also be­lieve that they should be in our schools. I was happy to see Coun­cil­lor Ja­worski bring this for­ward and it is some­thing we will cer­tainly look into,” said Mayor Frank Prevost who hopes to see vend­ing ma­chines in­stalled by the end of the sum­mer.

As a fa­ther of three girls, he un­der­stands the chal­lenges young girls face. “I strongly feel that this is a great idea for them,” he said. “Girls can feel very un­com­fort­able at the be­gin­ning. This would make things a lot eas­ier for them, knowing where they can go to be pro­tected.”

A South Glen­garry high school teacher who asked to re­main anony­mous agreed: “Many young girls are afraid or un­com­fort­able ask­ing their teacher for men­strual prod­ucts but I’ve per­son­ally had three stu­dents this year come to me ask­ing be­cause they didn’t have any and were in need.”

The teacher went on to say that while the school of­fice keeps a few prod­ucts on hand, it’s dif­fi­cult for stu­dents to dis­cretely ask for help in front of other staff mem­bers or stu­dents. “I can only imag­ine how many other girls were in the same sit­u­a­tion and in need but un­com­fort­able ask­ing.”

“Girls all have pe­ri­ods, so pro­vid­ing free san­i­tary prod­ucts at public places is a good idea,” said Glen Ne­vis res­i­dent Sally Phy­pers who has an 11-year-old daugh­ter. “In Eng­land, I have a friend who’s re­ally in­volved in it. They have some­thing called the Red Box Projects that pro­vides free san­i­tary prod­ucts to all schools and public buildings. They were the ones that kick­started it and now the Govern­ment will be pro­vid­ing free san­i­tary prod­ucts in all schools in Eng­land from Jan­uary 2020.”

“We think it’s great be­cause some girls are shy and maybe some only live with daddy and don’t want to ask dad to go buy some prod­ucts for them,” said par­ents of three girls, Marie-Pierre Bernier and Shawn Fowler from Lan­caster, who also pointed out that “there are sin­gle dads out there who might need a lit­tle help!”

“I think it is a great idea,” said an­other mother of three girls, Emma Jane Cock­ings of Wil­liamstown. “Mine are not quite at that age, one is pos­si­bly very close but I feel that it would be great for them and many other girls that use those kind of places,” she went on to say. “These types of things should be avail­able to all. For peo­ple who don’t have the means to pur­chase them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, they shouldn’t have to feel em­bar­rassed if it happens in public and they aren’t pre­pared.”

Poverty

Cana­dian girls and women have oc­ca­sion­ally had to miss out on an ac­tiv­ity be­cause of their pe­riod and con­cerns about lack of access to men­strual hy­giene prod­ucts.

Men­strual prod­ucts are an es­sen­tial part of a nor­mal, public life for peo­ple with pe­ri­ods. Nev­er­the­less, for al­most 24 years, Cana­dian girls and women had to pay sales tax (HST/GST) on men­strual hy­giene prod­ucts as though they were a non-es­sen­tial or “lux­ury” item. Dur­ing this time, women’s groups and activists ar­gued that the tax­a­tion of es­sen­tial and nec­es­sary prod­ucts used ex­clu­sively by women was un­fair and dis­crim­i­na­tory.

Af­ter years of pe­ti­tion­ing the govern­ment, women groups and activists across the coun­try cel­e­brated the pass­ing of Bill C-282, an Act to amend the Ex­cise Tax Act (on fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts). July 1, 2015, the sales tax was fi­nally re­moved from men­strual hy­giene prod­ucts.

A sig­nif­i­cant move to­wards “pe­riod eq­uity,” Bill C-282 helped safe­guard the rights of girls and women in Canada and sent a clear message to the provinces.

Some provinces had al­ready abol­ished pro­vin­cial tax on men­strual hy­giene prod­ucts. For oth­ers, the fed­eral govern­ment’s de­ci­sion sparked mo­men­tum to fol­low suit by ex­empt­ing men­stru­a­tion prod­ucts from pro­vin­cial sales tax.

While British Co­lum­bia is set to be­come the first pro­vin­cial govern­ment to of­fer free tampons and pads in women’s and uni­ver­sal wash­rooms in ele­men­tary, mid­dle, and high schools by the end of this year, On­tario may not be far be­hind.

May 28, MPP Bhutila Kar­poche rec­og­nized Men­strual Health Day by tabling a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill to the govern­ment of On­tario to pro

vide free men­strual prod­ucts to all On­tar­i­ans, start­ing with pub­liclyfunde­d schools. “Many peo­ple don’t think of pe­riod poverty as an is­sue here in Canada, when in fact there are many who struggle to access men­strual prod­ucts which can cost any­where from $76 to $153 per year,” said MPP Kar­poche. “This may not seem like a lot of money, but for many it’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween eat­ing or buy­ing nec­es­sary sup­plies.”

In her motion, MPP Kar­poche ar­gued that pe­riod poverty was both a health and so­cial eq­uity is­sue. “When peo­ple are un­able to af­ford a con­sis­tent sup­ply of prod­ucts, they may re­sort to un­hy­gienic so­lu­tions such as reusing or overus­ing prod­ucts that can lead to an in­crease in the risks for re­pro­duc­tive tract in­fec­tions,” she explained.

MEGGIN ROBERTS PHOTO

SIGN OF SUP­PORT: Cham­plain Coun­cil­lor Sarah Bigelow and Judy Sauvé un­veil the Ash­ley’s Way sign.

MEGGIN ROBERTS PHOTO

WIN­NERS: Gor­don. Sib­lings Tris­tan and Kira Bom­bardier and Michelle

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.