Toronto councillor pushes for free menstrual products at homeless shelters

Jun 26, 2018 | Life, News

Celeste Decaire

Toronto’s shelters for homeless women are in need of financial help in order to provide menstrual products to their attendees.

Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam put forward a recommendation to the City of Toronto to providing free menstrual products to women in shelters.

Shelters like the Covenant House have dozens of women and youth who us their facility that at some point need pads or tampons. Communications director Tracie LeBlanc said she appreciates the efforts made by Wong-Tam on this issue.

“She is our local councillor and she works really closely with Covenant House, so it’s always awesome to see her advocating on behalf of the homeless population in her riding,” LeBlanc said.

However, the menstrual equity movement doesn’t come without a cost. Data collected by Wong-Tam from the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis shows it would cost nearly $2 million to provide tampons, pads, and other menstrual hygiene products to the about 22,000 women in shelters and school-age girls from low-income brackets across Toronto.

“Providing menstrual hygiene products to low-income and homeless women is worthy of supporting on its own, even without the grants,” Wong-Tam tweeted.

Recently, some colleges and universities in Ontario made the move to provide free menstrual products to students to lessen the stress and financial burden of a period while at school. Free feminine products, for example, are available to Humber College’s campuses and at the University of Guelph-Humber.

Other initiatives like the “No tax on tampons” started by the Canadian Menstruators campaign in 2015, set a trend in defending women’s reproductive and health rights. The campaign managed to lower the Good and Services Tax on tampons and pads by two per cent.

Wong-Tam’s motion to provide free pads and tampons to homeless women comes shortly after John Tory’s Menstrual Hygiene Day declared on May 28.