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Advocates push for free period products throughout York Region

York Region to consider adding free menstrual products to public washrooms
May 6, 2022
Joseph Quigley

York Region is considering providing free period products at its facilities at the behest of a non-profit group.

Red Mvmnt founder Keyna Sarkar pushed for the change to regional council May 6, asking for York and all nine of its municipalities to provide menstrual products in public washrooms. Council voted to receive the presentation and referred it to staff going forward.

Sarker said 24 per cent of Canadian women can struggle to afford period products, including 33 per cent under 25, and it can lead to health issues.

“Period products are one of the most requested products at food banks, shelters and other crisis aid locations,” she said. “If York provides these products in community centres, public libraries and other public facilities, it would alleviate the pressure on food banks and shelters, making York a better place to call home.”

Sarker and her organization have pushed to bring about such change in other jurisdictions, including in Ontario schools this school year. Municipally, Edmonton, Brampton, Cambridge and Mississauga have implemented such a measure for their washrooms, Sarker said.

She said there is no difference between providing these products and providing tissues, hand soap and water in washrooms.

“Periods are natural and periods don’t stop,” Sarker said. “It is time for York to join this movement.”

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua expressed appreciation for the presentation.

“This is an important cause and it’s important for people to introduce these ideas that I think bring about positive change to people’s lives,” he said. “For that, I’m very grateful.”

Sarker noted that the consumer price index rose 3.1 per cent in 2021, indicative of inflation, further increasing the financial burden of the products.

”I hope this motion gets passed in support of gender equality and menstrual equity,” she said.