New program to provide menstrual hygiene products to New Brunswick schools
Students in New Brunswick will now have access to free menstrual hygiene products at school.
The New Brunswick government announced Monday that it has committed more than $115,000 to a program called Never Be Caught Off Guard, which ensures hygiene products are available in female and gender-neutral washrooms and locker rooms in schools with Grade 6 to 12 students.
“All students deserve to be able to focus on their learning, instead of worrying about how they will be able to access the essentials,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy.
“By providing menstrual hygiene products, schools are fostering learning environments that are inclusive, promote equity and respect human rights. Hopefully, this project can help reduce the impact on academics and help reduce stigma and social or emotional challenges.”
During the 2018-2019 school year, the government says a pilot project was introduced in the Anglophone School District West that provided free menstrual hygiene products to two high schools. The goal of the project was to explore whether making menstrual hygiene products accessible in school washrooms would have positive social-emotional and learning benefits for students.
“Availability of supplies in all washrooms takes the worry away from accidents and unexpected situations. It has also taken an economic stressor away from students and has leveled the playing field of accessibility and cleanliness,” said Stephanie Underhill Tomilson, principal of Fredericton High School. “The more we break down the stigma of menstruation, the easier it will become to address the inequalities of poverty and hygiene surrounding these products.”
The government says students surveyed as part of the project reported experiencing a decrease in embarrassment, anxiety and stress because they knew that pads and tampons were accessible at school and they would not need to ask for them.