Surrey students now have access to free pads and tampons in school washrooms.
More than 260 dispensers, according to a release from the district, were installed in all Surrey and White Rock schools over the winter break. Dispensers are also in learning centres, the District Education Centre and the Resource & Education Centre.
At each site, products are also available in one or more gender-neutral and handicapped-access washroom.
Previously, the products were made available to students upon request, but the new dispensers “allow schools to provide products in a manner that better protects student privacy.”
“It’s so important that students have free, easy and discreet access to pads and tampons when they need them,” said Surrey Board of Education chairperson Laurie Larsen. “The board is more than pleased to have made this move. We hope it not only provides barrier-free access, but contributes to reducing and eliminating stigma around menstruation.”
The total cost of installation of the dispensers and garbage bins, site preparation and signage cost roughly $193,000. The provincial government contributed $26,000.
That cost is down from the previously estimated $350,000 back in June of 2019.
Back in April, the Ministry of Education issued a ministerial order that schools across B.C. must carry free pads and tampons by the end of 2019.
“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products,” said Education minister Rob Fleming.
At the time, the province also announced $300,000 in startup funding for the 60 school districts to install dispensing machines in washrooms.