Food Banks Canada will receive $17.9 million from the federal government to address menstrual equity across the country.
On Thursday, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien announced the funding to the organization for a national pilot program.
"At a time when Canadians are struggling to make ends meet, buying pads, tampons and other menstrual products shouldn't be an additional source of financial strain," Ien said. "With this pilot, led by Food Banks Canada, we are taking another step forward to end period poverty, while expanding on successful menstrual equity projects in First Nations schools and federal workplaces. Making menstrual products free puts more money back in the pockets of people in need."
The pilot intends to:
• test approaches to distribute free menstrual products to community organizations serving diverse low-income populations across Canada
• to scale up education and awareness activities, which will inform Canadians about period poverty and reduce stigma around menstruation by partnering with organizations that are already advancing menstrual equity
A 2023 survey, conducted by Environics Research, on behalf of Women and Gender Equality Canada found that one in six Canadians who menstruate have personally experienced period poverty. This number rises to one in four if their household earns less than $40,000 a year.
It's believed that Food Banks Canada is the best organization to run this program as it already has a vast network of sites and partnerships that would allow for reaching individuals and communities that are most in need.
"Food banks across the country see first-hand every day how far too many people are forced to choose between personal hygiene products or buying enough food to eat," Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada, said.
According to the government, lack of access to menstrual products disproportionately impacts youth, single mothers, Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, people living with disabilities, gender diverse individuals, and those who live in remote areas.
The pilot is scheduled to run until March 31, 2024.