The B.C. New Democrats are calling on the provincial government to implement routine mandatory water quality tests at all schools in the province in an effort to prevent more children from being exposed to higher lead levels in their drinking water.

The move comes after elevated levels of lead were found in the drinking water of some schools in Prince Rupert.

"It is impossible to know if lead in school drinking water is a problem without a systematic, provide-wide approach to testing," said North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, the opposition critic for northern and rural health.

jennifer rice

North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice is the opposition critic for northern and rural health. (B.C. NDP)

Rice introduced a private member's bill in the B.C. legislature April 7 that would require the province to routinely check the quality of water in schools.

"There is no routine testing of lead in children's drinking water in British Columbia," Rice said.

"Rather than waiting for a concern to be discovered, the creation of a mandatory system of testing and mitigation would protect our young children while they are developing, and when they are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead."

The B.C. Teachers' Federation also took to Twitter to voice support for Rice's proposed Safe Water for Schools Act.

When elevated lead levels were discovered in four schools in Prince Rupert in February, Northern Health said that parents did not need to be alarmed.

"With regards to drinking water, generally speaking, it is a lower contributor to our overall exposure from lead from all different kinds of sources," said Raina Fumerton, medical health officer with the health authority.

"There's no safe or good level of lead, so in public health, we're always trying to get those levels down as low as reasonably possible."

With files from CBC's Daybreak North


To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: NDP private member's bill calls for routine quality tests of drinking water at B.C. schools