Toronto city councillor calls for more funding for tampons, pads at shelters

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Published Feb. 22, 2019 3:53 p.m. ET
Updated Feb. 22, 2019 3:57 p.m. ET
FILE - In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif. The California Senate approved a bill AB1561, by Assembly members Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, and Ling-Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, Thursday, to repeal the sales tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products. The bill now goes to the Assembly. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)

A Toronto city councillor is calling for additional funding to provide more tampons and pads at shelters, drop-ins, and respite centres.

In a news release issued Friday, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said although city administered shelters are required to provide menstrual supplies on demand, staff at those facilities have “made it clear” that the funding they receive for supplies is not enough to cover the cost of basic hygiene supplies.

“Service providers are often forced to fundraise, seek donations, or limit client access to menstrual products,” the news release read.

Citing a 2018 survey from the “Period Purse,” a non-profit group that collects and hands out menstrual supplies to shelters, Wong-Tam said the organization found that 91 per cent of service providers do not have the resources to buy enough feminine hygiene products for people in need.

"We receive blanket funding to cover all basic needs of our clients. That would include clothing, soap, deodorant, towels, facecloths, as well as food. We are obviously seeing an increase in living expenses in Toronto, and yet our funding is not increasing. So service providers have to make these decisions of what is more important, food or menstrual products,” Michelle Cutts, an employee at the Kennedy House Youth Shelter, said in the written release.

Wong-Tam said while the city’s budget committee did approve purchasing and installing washroom dispensers for menstrual hygiene products at shelters, service providers are still concerned that they will not have enough supplies to fill those dispensers.

She said she is asking city council to provide an extra $1,350 to each of the city’s 76 service providers, for a total of $102,000.

“This quantum represents the additional money raised through fundraising efforts by providers to ensure menstruators using their services are not going to be turned away empty handed,” Wong-Tam said.

“We will still have to find a sustainable solution for next year but for now, it is an acceptable interim resolution."

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