Windsor

Essex town council says 'no' to fluoride in drinking water

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, Essex town council rejected a proposal to add fluoride to the drinking water.

Coun. Sherry Bondy raised the motion and said it's not the municipality's responsibility

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, Essex town council rejected a proposal to add fluoride to drinking water. (iStock)

"There wasn't really much of a debate tonight," said Sherry Bondy, moments after Essex town council voted against putting fluoride back in their drinking water.

It was a unanimous vote which differs from the stance of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit — both cite fluoride as a safe and cost-effective measure to prevent oral disease.

"That's not our municipal responsibility to put fluoride in the water. If the province wants to look at it, that's a different game, different talk. But it's not up to us," Bondy said.

Coun. Sherry Bondy raised the issue of water fluoridation in the Town of Essex and is pleased to get council's full support. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The Town of Essex currently gets its water from two sources:

  • the Town of Amherstburg — which removed fluoride from its water in April 2011
  • the Union Water Supply System — which has never fluoridated its water.

Bondy, who raised the motion, is concerned with the associated costs. She, along with every other councillor, said it's not the town's job to add fluoride to water.

"Some of the points that were raised were that we don't want to mass-medicate people with water. People can get fluoride in other methods. It's up to us as a municipality to provide safe drinking water, not up to us to provide fluoride," she said.

Health agencies support water fluoridation

In January of 2013, Windsor city council voted to remove fluoride from local drinking water — a decision opposed by the the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The agency considers water fluoridation to be an important public health measure which prevents dental decay, reduces oral health inequities and improves health outcomes.

"Boards of Health across Ontario continue to support and promote water fluoridation as an important and cost-effective public health intervention to promote oral health within communities," said ministry spokesperson David Jensen.

"Under the Fluoridation Act, the responsibility to fluoridate water systems is made by municipalities. Municipalities may also discontinue the fluoridation of the water supply by by-law."

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit also supports water fluoridation — citing similar reasons as the provincial ministry.

Boards of Health across Ontario continue to support and promote water fluoridation as an important and cost-effective public health intervention to promote oral health within communities- David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

"Health Canada provides the guidelines for fluoride levels in drinking water at a Maximum Acceptable Concentration of 1.5 mg/L. Water that is at or below this recommendation poses no risk to human health," according to the WECHU's website.

According to the health unit's annual report last year, between 2011-2012 to 2016-2017, the percentage of children with tooth decay or requiring urgent care increased by 51 per cent. 

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