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Burlington to Provide Free Menstrual Products in all City Facilities with Pilot Program

Free Menstrual Products at City

*ADMINISTRATOR’S NOTE (MARCH 23, 2022 UPDATE): At the March 22 meeting, Burlington City Council unanimously approved the recommendations from committee related to providing free menstrual products in all City facilities. Click here for a news release issued by the City of Burlington.

MY TAKE:

I want to thank Councillor Rory Nisan for putting together the staff direction on this and bringing it forward — and our City staff for thinking of an option to accommodate this that fits our current budget. I also want to thank The Pink Project — who delegated to us at the City during our 2022 budget deliberations. We heard two things from these amazing ladies: we don’t pay for toilet paper or paper towels when we enter a bathroom, so menstrual products should be no different and 66% of women struggle to afford feminine hygiene products. Providing these products free of charge is something that we can do that brings us closer to equity at our City facilities.

•                    •                    •

*ORIGINAL POST BELOW PUBLISHED FEB. 25, 2022

Kudos to Olivia Netto and Iman Nemar who launched The Pink Project, for advocating that the city provide free menstrual hygiene products in all city washrooms – and for showing us how it’s done.

Their efforts have directly resulted in a proposal from staff to put free menstrual products in 90 public washrooms at city recreational facilities and City Hall, at an expected cost of $15,000. That amount can be absorbed within current budget due to janitorial savings as a result of COVID closures. The proposal will be considered at committee March 3.

In a presentation last November during city budget discussions, Netto and Nemar stated that according to the Canadian Public Health Association:

  • $9,000 is the average annual cost to women in Canada for menstrual products
  • 70% of women/girls miss school or work due to their period
  • 66% of women under 25 struggle to afford period products
  • period poverty is real, there is often shame/taboo around the topic at school and work, and marginalized communities are the most affected.

As they noted, “when you enter a public bathroom, you don’t pay for toilet paper or soap.”

Earlier last year, the Pink Project received $2,000 from the city’s Community Matching Fund to launch free menstrual products in several sites in Burlington, including all seven Burlington Public Libraries, Joe Dog’s Gasbar Grill, Value Village and Halton Police District 3. The results of this project helped inform city staff’s work to bring forward the proposal for city facilities.

According to the staff report, “Offering free menstrual hygiene products in public washrooms is now considered as essential to the community as offering toilet paper, soap and paper towels. Furthermore, providing menstrual hygiene products in all public washrooms provides a more inclusive approach to support the menstrual needs of transgender and non-binary individuals.”

City council will consider the proposal from staff at the Environment, Infrastructure & Community Services Committee, Thursday, March 3, 9:30am, with final consideration at council March 22. If approved, staff will implement the program and report back to council on the results by Q4 2022.

You can view the staff report and appendices here: EICS March 3, Item 4.6

Residents can register to speak at the committee or submit written feedback: Register as a Delegation.

Don’t have a computer, or need assistance with virtual meeting technology? Additional options to join the meeting are here: Participate in virtual meetings

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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