Hamilton councillor motions for free pads and tampons for low-income residents

Hamilton’s board of health may have voted down a motion to provide free menstrual health products in municipal buildings, but some councillors aren’t letting up on their attempts to make period products more accessible.

On Tuesday, Coun. Sam Merulla indicated he intends to put forward a motion for a pilot project, which would provide free menstrual products to low-income residents.

“The inability to afford menstrual products is a health equity issue that disproportionately impacts low-income residents,” Merulla stated in an email to fellow councillors. “A lack of access to menstrual products due to financial need… contributes to a lack of dignity… and has health, social and emotional consequences.”

‘Menstrual equity’ means free pads, tampons in all-gender bathrooms in London high schools

Merulla is proposing a feasibility study based on population, location, distribution options and cost.

The report would then be presented to Hamilton’s board of health.

Council received international attention for its sometimes hotly-contested debate.

Coun. Maureen Wilson introduced the motion, seconded by Nrinder Nann, in hopes that Hamilton would join Sarnia and London in providing tampons and pads in municipal buildings.

Ward 7 Coun. Esther Pauls received the most backlash for her comments before she voted “no” on the motion.

“A woman is always prepared,” Pauls told council. “I came from Italy. We worked hard. I bought my own products. If I couldn’t buy my own products, I would ask someone.”

“We did this privately,” added Pauls. “I find a little uncomfortable. We’re talking an hour-and-a-half about this.”

WATCH: Free menstrual products to be available in B.C. schools

British Columbia will be the first province to make menstrual products available in all public school bathrooms by the end of 2019.

In a poll of 2,000 Canadian women by Plan International Canada, they found that 83 per cent of those age 18-25 missed school, work, or a social event as a result of their period.

The survey also found that “period poverty” is still an issue in Canada.

One-third of Canadian women under 25 say they struggle to afford feminine hygiene products.

More than 77 per cent of participants agreed that pads and tampons are one of the top-three material costs for women.

Coun. Wilson will be the keynote speaker when “Menstrual Hygiene Day” is celebrated on May 29 in Hamilton.

WATCH: Halifax considering making menstrual products free at municipal facilities

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