OCDSB Menstrual Equity (ME) Initiative

Free menstrual pads in OCDSB schools for students Gr. 4+
Take what you need, no questions asked.

While menstruation is a normal and healthy bodily function, for too many students, having a period can lead to feelings of shame and financial hardship. 

According to a 2022 study from Plan International Canada, more than four in five respondents aged 13+ who menstruate (83%) believe period products are too expensive. OCDSB students have said they can’t participate fully in school without access to period products. Students have had to leave school, miss class, or be late. 

The stigma, lack of access, and expense can ultimately affect a student’s comfort, health and well-being, not to mention their ability to learn. The OCDSB Menstrual Equity Initiative is meant to provide access to free menstrual products to ensure students have what they need to participate fully at school. 

Thanks to the advocacy of students, in January 2021, the OCDSB approved a student trustee-led motion to provide free menstrual products for students in schools across the OCDSB. In October of that same year, the Ontario government also announced that it would be providing free menstrual products for students across the province. The OCDSB Menstrual Equity Initiative will expand upon the provincial plan by providing both thick and thin pads, in addition to offering pads for students starting in grade 4.

OCDSB Menstrual Equity InitiativeWho can access free menstrual products?

Anyone who needs them. You don’t have to ask, just take what you need. The initiative will be focusing on providing access to free menstrual products for students starting in grade 4, but anyone can take one if they need it..

Where can I find them?

More information will be shared with students about where these can be found at each school. Signs will be posted that say, “Free menstrual pads. Please take what you need.” Students do not need to ask to take a pad.

  • Secondary schools will make products available to students from places such as Guidance departments, gender-neutral washrooms, Phys Ed offices, and other areas of the school as determined by the principal;
  • Elementary schools will distribute in gender-neutral washrooms and other easily accessible areas as determined by the school principal.

In 2023, all gr. 4-12 school sites will have coin-free menstrual product dispensers installed in all female washrooms accessible to students, including gender-neutral washrooms and at least one stall within a male washroom.

What kind of products are available?

Based on the input of students, both thick and thin pads will be offered. The initiative does not include tampons at this time. 

How will students be informed about the OCDSB Menstrual Equity Initiative?

General information will be shared with students and parents about the initiative and where products can be found in schools. The topic of menstruation is first introduced as part of the grade 5 Ontario Curriculum in Human Development and Sexual Health. According to this parent guide from Toronto Public Health, “Some children get their first period as early as 8 or 9 years old, and while this is considered early, it is common. Discussing menstruation with children prior to their first period will help to destigmatize this natural bodily function.”

Further information for students and parents:
Ottawa Public Health - Menstruation
Resources and Support - Puberty
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) -
Toronto Public Health -
Discussing Menstruation with Young Children

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