Free pads and tampons will soon be available in Chilliwack schools, at an estimated initial cost of more than $40,000.
About half of that will be a one-time installation cost of pre-stocked dispensary machines in all girl’s washrooms in middle and high schools. In a report to the school board from staff, the estimated cost of the 30 needed machines will be $20,100. Those machines would be installed with products that girls can access without asking permission.
In elementary schools, the products will be available in the medical room.
District staff also worked out an estimation of how much the free menstrual products could average each year. The report notes that it is “difficult to estimate,” but that it is based on one female using one product once a month.
They’ve settled on two cases of products ($150 per case) a month for secondary schools, one case a month for middle schools, and two cases a year for elementary schools.
For all area high schools, that equals 60 cases a year at a cost of $9,000. For the middle schools, 50 cases a year at $7,500, and for elementary schools, 40 cases a year at $6,000.
The total estimated per cost a year will then be $22,500.
The free products are being provided due to a ministerial order from the government on April 5 that requires all B.C. public schools to do so by the end of 2019.
The staff report say “this initiative was led by the New Westminster Schools Board of Education and soon after the Minister of Education issued the order. This was done to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools, with no stigma and no financial barriers.”
It also states: “The Ministry has committed to look at the needs of each district, identify gaps and to ensure the funding is available to meet this new requirement. Once this has been established, the district can then proceed with the work to be done.”
The Chilliwack School Board will not have a vote on the matter, and the report is being presented as information only, at the board’s May 28 meeting.