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OHRC letter to Minister of Colleges and Universities to support access to menstrual hygiene products in universities and colleges

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March 8, 2022

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Honourable Jill Dunlop
Minister of Colleges and Universities
5th Floor, 438 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M7A 2A5

Dear Minister Dunlop:

Re: Toronto Youth Cabinet’s call for free access to menstrual hygiene products to students

I am writing to reinforce the Toronto Youth Cabinet’s call on the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to support all Ontario colleges and universities in providing free access to menstrual hygiene products to students.

This initiative expands on an earlier request by the Toronto Youth Cabinet and the fall 2021 announcement by the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, to provide free menstrual products to Ontario school boards for the next three years. As you know, the issue of access to menstrual products does not end at Grade 12. So, expanding this effort to post-secondary students is a necessary step that will help remove an equity barrier and support attendance.

A 2018 Canadian gender study survey on Period Stigma by Plan International Canada found that of Canadian women under the age of 25:

  • 33%  say they have struggled to afford menstrual products
  • 86% have found themselves unprepared when their period started
  • 70% say they have missed school or work or have withdrawn from fully participating in social activities because of their period.

Further, a 2019 study by Plan International Canada, Female and male views on menstruation in Canada, showed that nearly nine in 10 Canadian girls and women support (69%) or somewhat support (19%) making menstrual hygiene products available for free in post-secondary institutions.

Some individual colleges and universities have already taken the initiative to offer free menstrual products on their own. However, it is important that these products be available to all Ontario college and university students with the support of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. As noted by the Toronto Youth Cabinet, any initiative should address the needs of transgender men and gender non-binary people as well.

Ensuring post-secondary students have convenient access to free menstrual products will help promote gender equality and increase students’ full participation in post-secondary education


Patricia DeGuire
Chief Commissioner

cc:       Toronto Youth Cabinet
            OHRC Commissioners