Many are forced to choose between food and period products every month. They don’t choose to menstruate.

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In May 2019, Halifax poverty activists Gayle Collicutt and Jodi Brown began to advocate for adding an allowance for period products to Income Assistance and Employee Support benefits. Both activists have firsthand experience with poverty in Nova Scotia. The bill they’re working on with MLA Karla McFarlane is a great example of how important menstrual equity advocacy is to help improve period product access. DivaCares was excited to hear from both Jodi and Karla at the Period Poverty Summit in Dartmouth, NS, in October 2019.

Employment Support and Income Assistance in Nova Scotia benefits provide allowances for shelter, food, transportation and hygiene, but leave little for other basic needs like period products, which can cost anywhere from $66 to $250 per year per person. This cost is even higher for people who have a heavy flow or medical complications.

MacFarlane said sitting down with Collicutt and Brown was eye opening and has since tabled Bill 126 to make Nova Scotia the first province in Canada to have its own period poverty legislation. The bill has sparked broader conversations about period poverty in Nova Scotia, particularly in rural areas.