Recently, Scotland has passed the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, which ensures that menstrual products are available to all who need them, free of charge. Scotland estimates that the initiative will cost about $14.6 million CAD a year.
The bill says that local authorities are legally obligated to ensure that the menstrual products are accessible for free while ensuring that schools and universities have free menstrual products.
In order to understand how this would work in Canada, it is important to understand the concept of period poverty. Period poverty is the inability to afford menstrual products due to costs. As a woman, I’ve had tough times affording period products. Not everyone has the same access to buying specific period products.
The average pack of the leading brand of pads at Walmart costs around $8-$10 before taxes. The average person changes their pad at least three to four times a day, or once every two to three hours. This means that sometimes a pack of thirty-two pads can be finished within a week, depending on your flow. Different sizes of period products have different costs as well.
Period products must be changed periodically to avoid contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can happen due to the overgrowth of staph bacteria found in those who menstruate. TSS happens suddenly and causes the body to have a drop in blood pressure and oxygen levels, which can cause organ failure and death.
If Canada were to start an initiative like Scotland has, it might be beneficial to have a public hearing on the proposed bill. The bill would have to be created in conjunction with local authorities across Canada, and input should be taken from the general public as well as from scientists and doctors. The financial side of the proposed bill should be taken into account as well, to ensure that this move would not push Canada further into an economic deficit.
I think that it would be absolutely beneficial and practical for Canada to work towards implementing something like Scotland’s period products bill. The pandemic has caused uncertainty towards many industries and facets of life, one of them being financial uncertainty.
In terms of implementing an initiative like this, Canada would have to look into the financial aspect of it and see if there is enough space in the national budget to start this initiative, and look at the positive economic impacts providing menstrual products could have.
Implementing a bill like Scotland has would be a good thing since the benefits outweigh the costs by removing a widespread financial burden that almost exclusively affects women.