A lawsuit against the city over its practice of fluoridating the water supply is no longer a class action but rather a negligence claim and a constitutional challenge.
Kootenay resident Kevin Millership, who first launched the action in March, made the changes in an amended notice of claim filed at the Prince George courthouse on Thursday.
The city had attempted to get the matter dismissed because a class-action lawsuit requires formal legal representation. Millership, a landscaper who lives in Slocan, had until Friday to secure a lawyer and, instead, amended the claim.
Millership is continuing to contend the fluoride to the city water is the cause of the degenerative tooth disease dental fluorosis.
Millership maintains one in 10 people in Prince George has “objectionable” dental fluorosis, a mottling of the tooth enamel that, in the mild form, causes paper white spots or streaks on tooth enamel, worsening to orange and brown stained teeth with pitted and eroded sections that are more prone to decay in the more severe cases.
He also claims most dental plans do not cover the cost of treatment that can range from $1,000 to $100,000 per person with treatment ongoing for a lifetime in some cases, in addition to the psychological damage sufferers face.
Millership also argues the city violated legislation by starting the practice in September 1955 without taking the issue to a referendum. He said the city stopped fluoridating its water for a time in 1998 until the provincial government granted it an exemption from holding a referendum.
And Millership asserts the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been violated because no referendum was held.
He is seeking a court order to end fluoridation as well as costs and further relief as the court sees fit.
According to Northern Health dental program manager Brenda Matsen, studies show an increase in dental decay rates in communities where water fluoridation is removed and the practice is especially important for those who cannot afford dental care.
“Tooth decay is an epidemic,” Matsen said. “It is the number one chronic disease in children and adolescents in North America. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.”
Just five other B.C. communities still add fluoride to their water – Prince Rupert, Fort St. John, Sparwood and Terrace. Williams Lake ended the practice in 2011 as did Kamloops in 2001 following referendums.
A referendum on the issue will be held in Prince George during this year’s civic elections, set for Nov. 15.