College, City of Winnipeg build on free menstrual product accessibility

A local college and the City of Winnipeg are marking Menstrual Hygiene Day with a focus on cost and accessibility.

On Tuesday, Red River College (RRC) announced it put baskets of free menstrual products, including tampons and pads, in every washroom on campus.

Jodi Pluchinski, director of safety, health and security services at RRC, says the move is about reducing barriers for all students.

“One in three Canadian women have to choose between purchasing menstrual products over other essentials. That’s a large demographic in our college community, and we don’t ever want anyone to have to miss a class because they don’t have access to menstrual products,” she said.

Pluchinski said menstrual products were previously available through the student’s association and health centres on campus, but more was possible.

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“We’ve just decided we’re going to roll it out. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to roll back. We’re going to roll forward just like everyone needs to. The world is changing, and we need to catch up with the world, and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right things for people,” she said.

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Likewise, the City of Winnipeg has announced a partnership with Period Pin, which is a website mapping out what buildings offer free menstrual products.

Currently, eight city-owned facilities do.

Jennifer Hansell, superintendent of planning and portfolio management with the city, said that number could grow after a successful, one-year pilot project that ended late last year. That pilot project is now permanent, after a council vote earlier this year.

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“It’s gone better than we actually anticipated. There was no vandalism to the (dispensers), and people have been respectful, and people have been thankful,” she said. “It’s been a good experience.”

However, there is nothing set in stone.

“It’s a year-to-year sort of thing,” she said.

Hansell noted that free menstrual products are not a totally new concept in city-owned buildings. It’s mostly the approach that has changed.

“All across the city we have always offered free feminine hygiene products at pools and libraries, but you’d had to go to the front desk and ask for them,” she said.

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“There was a need to make this, I think, more discreet and more private, where people could access these products without having to ask or having to approach anybody or draw attention to themselves.”

Click to play video: '‘Basic human right’: Free menstrual products available at some City of Winnipeg facilities'

‘Basic human right’: Free menstrual products available at some City of Winnipeg facilities

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