The Manitoba government has reached an agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart to provide free menstrual products to schools and other agencies to improve accessibility and reduce period poverty.
“Thanks to this innovative partnership, we are progressing towards destigmatizing the nature of getting your period by supporting young women and girls when they need it most,” said Families Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women. “This significant shift will ensure thousands of students and others most in need will have reliable and consistent access to menstrual products wherever they live in our province.”
Through the agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart, schools, domestic violence shelters, resource centres, and second stage and specialized programs will receive menstrual products to administer to those most in need.
“Students in Manitoba deserve to feel comfortable going to school knowing they have access to free menstrual products when they need it, without barriers or stigma,” said Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister. “This agreement will help build more inclusive learning environments for people who menstruate across the province and is expected to lead to positive impacts on student engagement and well-being.”
As part of this partnership, more than 3.3 million menstrual products will be donated to the initiative each year for three years. The Manitoba government will distribute the products monthly to schools and other identified locations. School divisions and schools will determine where the supplies are most needed.
“Inequitable access to period products, particularly for students, can lead to missed opportunities – school, work, and other activities – and creates barriers to success,” said Jeff Leger, president, Shoppers Drug Mart. “This donation will provide students in Manitoba with free access to period products, helping to more fully unlock their potential. We are proud to be a part of this initiative, and grateful to our stores, to Procter & Gamble, and to our customers for their support.”
Ewasko noted providing free menstrual products to students delivers on the government’s commitment to building a fair and equitable public education system, supporting the Student Engagement and Well-Being pillar of Manitoba’s K to 12 Education Action Plan. As noted in the plan, the government will continue to work with education stakeholders, parents and caregivers to ensure holistic supports are available to address student needs, including mental health and wellness.
“Menstrual products are a right, not a privilege, and should be safe and affordable for everyone,” said Chloe Crockford and Isabella O’Brien, Grade 11 students at Collège Jeanne-Sauvé.
This announcement marks Manitoba’s sixth collaborative social finance program to explore innovative solutions and deliver better outcomes, the minister noted. The agreement is Shoppers Drug Mart’s second major collaboration with the Manitoba government using innovative social policy tools that bring together government, the private sector, not-for-profits and other stakeholders to deliver effective solutions.