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N.S. Opposition introduces bill to help low-income women afford hygiene products

It’s an issue that affect thousands of Nova Scotian women who live in poverty; how to pay for menstrual products month after month. But a bill introduced by the opposition could relieve some of that financial strain for women on income assistance.

Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane wants the province to “end period poverty.” MacFarlane is introducing a bill that will help women on income assistance be able to afford the mandatory hygiene products that most women need throughout their lives.

“It’s a real serious situation and I think a lot of us take it for granted because we can afford to go out and buy tampons and pads whenever we have to but there is a group of individuals in particular on income assistance that can’t,” says MacFarlane.

Earlier this month the United Way in Halifax partnered with the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union to hold a tampon drive. They collected over 51,000 products to donate to food banks and women’s shelters.

“It’s one of the most frequently asked for products at our agencies and at food banks,” says Sarah White of United Way, “but they’re not often donated so this was an opportunity to really raise awareness about the need for the product.”

The Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank was one of the organizations that received donations of tampons form the United Way, and says that it is extremely important to have these available and people have resorted to dangerous measures when they can’t afford menstrual products.

“Persons have resorted to using toilet paper or a hand towel because they can’t afford to get a tampon or a pad,” says Cynthis Louis, the client service co-ordinator at Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.

Suzanne Lively, an advocate for women’s right to have accessible feminine hygiene products, offers period cups as an alternate product that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. They are made of 100 per cent medical silicone, which also means that they last for a long time.

“I thought that they were a great solution for period poverty because if someone is having this issue it’s happening month after month and the Diva Cup or menstrual cup will last years,” says Lively.

MacFarlane is calling on the Liberals to support her bill saying its measure could provide real comfort to thousands of Nova Scotians.

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