Council voted 8-3 to end fluoridation five years ago
It’s been five years that Windsorites have lived without fluoride in their water. Now, council is headed back to city hall to debate whether they should put it back in.
The issue is expected to be a controversial one with 16 delegates lined up to speak, and 59 emails already received by the city clerk.
Many of the written delegations are from health-care associations and health-care professionals that want fluoride back in Windsor’s water.
According to the Oral Health 2018 report by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the percentage of children with tooth decay or requiring urgent care has increased by 51 per cent in 2016-17 compared to 2011-12.
However, Mayor Drew Dilkens, who voted to have fluoride taken out, has not changed his stance.
“Fluoride is one tool for good oral health, we all know that, but it’s not the only tool,” he said.
Dilkens said fluoridated toothpaste is the “number-one thing” people can use to protect their teeth. He also suggested Healthy Smiles, the provincial program for low-income families to send their kids to receive free dental care.
Coun. Ed Sleiman is not so quick to reveal his stance. He voted to have fluoride taken out five years ago as well.
“How could you please everyone? That’s the thing about it,” he said.
“We are kind of listening to both sides.”
The money saved from stopping fluoridation has been diverted for oral health and nutrition education in the region.
If started again, Enwin Utilities estimates a one-time cost of $850,000, as the old equipment is no longer available for reuse. Ongoing costs would total roughly $105,000 to purchase the fluoride each year.
Some delegates wrote that they don’t want fluoride in their water because they are worried about potential adverse health effects.
“Parents are advised to contact poison control if their child swallows toothpaste containing fluoride, yet we’re going to be forced to allow it in our children’s daily water supply?” wrote Deanna Latta from Amherstburg, who has grandchildren in Windsor.
Some also wrote they wanted to have a choice in whether their water is fluoridated or not.
Health professionals say concerns over fluoride aren’t founded on any scientific evidence.
“This is a safe and cost-effective way to improve the oral health status of everyone in the community,” wrote Dr. Sanjukta Mohanta, past president of Halton-Peel Dental Association.
“I have seen how easily people living in non-fluoridated areas get cavities — something that could have been prevented.”
Others argued that fluoridating water will help improve the health of the entire population, including those who can’t afford to see a dentist regularly.
Dilkens thinks the decision shouldn’t be made at the municipal level at all, and Sleiman agrees.
“If it’s good for the public, I think it should be legislated,” he said. “I feel very strongly, it should be a provincial issue. It should even be a country-wide issue.”
Council will be voting on the issue Monday night.With files from Chris Ensing
*Original article online at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-council-water-fluoride-1.4947723