Windsor

To drink or not to drink? Fluoride debate set to hit council, again

It appears the fluoride debate will be waged again in Windsor. The health unit has passed a motion, asking the city to reintroduce fluoride into water. The recommendation is expected to come before council later this spring.

In 2013, city council decided to stop adding fluoride to the water supply

Windsor city council is set to discuss the fluoridation of water this spring, after a health unit report showed an increase in children's' tooth decay. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)

It appears the fluoride debate will be waged again in Windsor.

Five years ago, city council decided to stop adding fluoride to the water supply.

But now, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has presented data showing a surge in dental problems for children in the years that followed.

Hilary Payne was one of three city councillors who voted to keep fluoride back in 2013. He said the new report confirms what he always believed.

"It was in my view — and I believe that more strongly than ever now — that it's essential for the health of our children," said Payne. "It's a terrible legacy to pass on to those children and grandchildren that their dental health will be adversely affected."

Ward 9 Coun. Hilary Payne voted in favour of keeping fluoride in the city's drinking water in the last vote in 2013. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Coun. Paul Borrelli agrees that council has to seriously look at fluoridation again.

"I think it should be done because it benefits all ages and all socio-economic groups," he said. "There are people in the lower socio-economic groups that might not be able to have access to dental care and various products that help children with their teeth."

Decay on the rise, says report

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

The health unit also reported that four out of five Windsor-Essex residents support putting fluoride back in the water.

Donna Mayne is with the group Fluoride Free Windsor, and spoke to council when the issue came up in 2013. She believes the health unit is massaging the numbers.

"Data can be used to promote just about anything, as long as you're choosing numbers that focus on what you want to promote," she said. "They're taking raw data and assuming there's a correlation to fluoridation, but there isn't."

The health unit has passed a motion, asking the city to reintroduce fluoride into water. The recommendation is expected to come before council later this spring.

Mayne said when it does, she will be there to present her arguments.

CBC News reached out to three council members who voted to remove fluoride in 2013 — including now-mayor Drew Dilkens — but have not had a response.

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