Students at public schools across Nova Scotia will soon have access to free menstrual products.

The provincial government says free menstrual products are already available at many schools in the province, but soon they will be available at all public schools with grades four and up.

“We know that sometimes we may forget to plan ahead, or we may find ourselves in an emergency, and sometimes the cost of pads or tampons can be an issue,” said Kelly Regan, the minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, during Tuesday’s announcement at Halifax West High School.   

“That’s why we’re removing those barriers for students so they can access these products. We want to ensure that every student has access to menstrual products when they need them, and we want students to be comfortable accessing them without stigma.”

Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill says schools are focusing on the well-being of students by providing universal access to menstrual products.

“When students come to school they should be able to focus on learning. No student should have to come to school and worry about where or how they will access menstrual products,” said Churchill.

Aya Ali, a student with the Halifax West Health Action Team, echoed that sentiment, noting that some students can’t afford menstrual products.

“It’s really a concern for students. I know many students miss class or miss a test because of that,” said Ali. “If students do not have to worry about this they can focus on their studying and do better in their class. The people who do not have a lot of money can also put their money towards other needs.”

Regan says the initiative also aligns with a broader movement across the province to ensure that women and gender-diverse Nova Scotians have better access to menstrual products, noting that the Halifax Regional Municipality recently made them available in buildings.

“Menstruation is a fact of life for a big chunk of our population,” said Regan. “Normalizing the discussion on this and other impacts in women’s health is important and it’s great to see how our students are engaged on these topics.”

Churchill says there are roughly 40,000 students between grades four and 12 that could access the products at 367 schools.

Each school will decide how and where the products will be made available.

“We’ve consulted with the regional centres of education and the cost associated with this can be handled at the regional level, so there’s no additional investment needed to do this,” said Churchill.

Regan says companies are also donating the products to some schools.