Pilot to offer free menstrual products at Cambridge-run buildings gets shot down by city council
CAMBRIDGE - A Cambridge city councillor is expressing her frustration that four of her fellow councillors voted against providing free menstrual products in city-run buildings.
Coun. Donna Reid tried and failed to get the idea passed at council on Tuesday night.
"I was very disappointed," she says.
"To me, this provides dignity that women need."
There were three options on the table: a plan to provide free menstrual products in all city-run buildings; a pilot project to offer free products in some buildings; or to do nothing.
On this issue, Cambridge will do nothing.
Councillors Mike Mann, Mike Devine, Jan Liggett and Nicholas Ermeta voted against the motion.
"I strongly believe that, as a two-tiered government system, that our health issues and our social service issues are covered by the region and I think that's where this belongs," Coun. Mike Mann said at the meeting, a recording of which is available on the city's YouTube channel.
In a statement to CTV, Ermeta echoed the position that menstrual products are a public health issue.
Another issue for Mann and Devine: money. The project would cost about $20,000.
"Do we support public health? Yes we do. Do we pay for it? Yes we do. Do we put toilet paper in? We pay for that. Do we put soap in? We pay for that. What is different about this?" Reid told CTV on Wednesday.
That was the government's thinking when it proposed a plan to have businesses pick up the cost of menstrual products in federally-regulated industries.
"Council chose to send a message, and it was that they don't want free menstrual products for visitors and citizens in their facilities," says Kevin Hiebert with Period Purse Cambridge. The organization aims to provide marginalized people with free menstrual products.
Even a cheaper proposed pilot project for six bathrooms was voted down.
"We don't need a pilot project to verify the fact that people menstruate," says Kate Elliott, also with Period Purse.
Devine and Liggett did not respond to a request for an interview.