Laurentian Hills says no to free pads

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by Doug Tennant

Laurentian Hills council met for their July meeting recently and completed the agenda of municipal business within 27 minutes.

The main topic of discussion during the meeting was a resolution received from the city of St. Catharines about providing free tampons and feminine pads in municipal-run public facilities.

The St. Catharines initiative noted that one-third of Canadian women under the age of 25 struggle to afford menstrual products, according to Plan International Canada.

It said there is a need for low or no-cost products. Libraries and recreation centres were chosen for a pilot project because they serve a large population that is diverse in age and socio-economic status.

According to St. Catharines Councillor Greg Miller, it’s not just a matter of economic equity for women who can’t afford the products — though that was a factor in the motion he tabled.

“It’s more generally a matter of justice and righting a wrong, which is our social norm that products aren’t available,” he told council.

“If men menstruated, these products would be available in every public bathroom in the city.”

Elisabeth Zimmermann, executive director of YWCA Niagara Region, spoke in support of the idea, telling the St. Catharines council the organization understands the barriers women can face in accessing something that is vital to them.

Zimmermann said the move sets a precedent and builds on an earlier presentation council heard in the night about gender equity in the workplace.

“This is another way that [St. Catharines] council can take leadership in terms of understanding the needs that women have and the need to have access to free menstrual products,” Zimmermann said.

At the end of discussion of the St. Catharines resolution though, with Councillor Brenda Blimkie being unable to attend the meeting, Laurentian Hills council was deadlocked in a tie vote on whether to support the concept.

Mayor Jed Reinwald and Deputy Mayor Anne Giardini were in favour of the initiative and Councillors John Hoyle and Bruce Boucher opposed the motion. Based upon the stalemate, the motion was defeated.

> Published in the NRT July 31, 2019