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Toronto City of Toronto to provide menstrual products for homeless women, girls

The City of Toronto is poised to ensure homeless women and girls have greater access to feminine hygiene products.

The city council’s executive committee voted on Monday to boost this year’s shelter, support and housing administration budget by more than $222,000.

The money will be used to buy menstrual products and dispensers for city-run homeless shelters, drop-in and respite centres, as well as some neighbourhood community centres.

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The funding will become official if city council approves the new budget at a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, a city councillor leading the call for designated funding for menstrual products, says she’s proud to see the city follow through.

She says the move is an important step to ensure equity for low-income women and girls.

“Menstrual equity is an important part of a larger goal – to bring a gender equity lens to governmental budget processes,” she said in a statement released on Twitter. “We must analyze and address the hidden financial inequities that are causing women and their families to be left behind.”

Developments in Toronto come a week after a British Columbia school board opted to make feminine hygiene products available for free in school washrooms.

Starting in September, tampons and pads will be available in women’s and universal washrooms in elementary, middle and high schools operated by the New Westminster School Board.

Douglas College professor Selina Tribe proposed the motion, which received unanimous support last Tuesday.

Ms. Tribe described the issue as one of equality noting access to tampons and pads “is as essential as toilet paper for a normal bodily function that affects half the population.”

The cost of installing the free dispensers is estimated at $10,000, while district staff said stocking them will cost about $7000 annually. Ms. Tribe has pegged the overall cost at less than $1 a student by the second year of the program.

British Columbia’s health minister has said the government will observe the results of the program in New Westminster before deciding whether to heed calls to roll out a similar initiative province-wide.

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