OTTAWA -- An Ottawa councilor wants the city to explore the idea of offering free menstrual products in some city facilities.

Coun. Jenna Sudds introduced a motion at Thursday’s Community and Protective Services Committee meeting to direct staff to explore the feasibility and costs of a pilot project to offer free products in select municipal buildings.

“There are folks that struggle in order to be able to get their hands on these products, which frankly are necessary. It comes every month,” the Kanata North Councillor told CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron.

“If men menstruated, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now,” Sudds said when asked if she expected pushback on her proposal.

“This is a basic need of menstruating individuals.”

The City of London, Ont. offers free menstrual products in washrooms at 65 facilities and at City Hall. The products that are available are tampons and pads.  

A spokesperson for the City of London tells CTV News Ottawa that six months into the program, “we have so far noticed that uptake hasn’t been as much as we anticipated.” A report will be presented to London City Council in June with a cost estimate for the program.

Sudds motion asks staff to look at a pilot project offering free tampons and pads at “key city facilities in different parts of the city, where, likely, the demand would be greatest.”

The motion asks staff to:

  • Provide the committee with a breakdown of city facilities that are currently equipped with menstrual product dispensers
  • Identify facilities that would benefit most from installation of dispensers based on demographics
  • The cost to the city if the dispensers were installed in the facilities (both one-time and on-going costs)
  • Provide guidance on feasibility and costs of implementing a pilot project to provide menstrual products in select city facilities

Sudds says the idea of free menstrual products being offered in city facilities has been “brewing for a while”, after she met with two high school students who were working on a project to help eliminate period poverty.

She says the students are “really pushing not only the city, but businesses to give thought to this issue and make products available.” Sudds tells News Talk 580 CFRA that period poverty relates to individuals who don’t have the financial means to access menstrual products.

Sudds says staff will provide a response by the next meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee on Mar. 27.

Councillors Shawn Menard and Jeff Leiper expressed support for Sudds’ motion on social media.