Fluoride Action Network

City council renews call to add fluoride to Regina water supply

Source: Regina Leader-Post | July 13th, 2021 | By Jennifer Ackerman
Location: Canada, Saskatchewan

“It’s time for Regina to join most major cities in Canada and fluoridate the water.”

In a battle that’s grown long in the tooth through decades of failed votes, the push to add fluoride to Regina’s water is back on the agenda for city council.

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming that this is an important public health measure,” said Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) in an interview Tuesday. “It’s time for Regina to join most major cities in Canada and fluoridate the water.”

A notice of motion, spearheaded by Hawkins, will be introduced at Wednesday’s city council meeting, but will not be debated until council’s next meeting in August. It has been signed by Mayor Sandra Masters and nine out of 10 city councillors. Hawkins said Coun. Landon Mohl (Ward 10) is still reviewing the motion.

According to the motion, community water fluoridation to prevent tooth decay has been endorsed by more than 90 national and international professional health organizations including the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Public Health Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the World Health Organization and more.

“It’s critically important for young children so that they don’t have to have long and difficult trips to the dentist, but it’s also important for everyone throughout their life, and for senior citizens,” said Hawkins. “It helps them avoid cavities and dental appliances and all the difficulties that that produces.”

The city has held four referendums on the subject — in 1954, 1958, 1965 and 1985.

In 1958, a total of 11,941 residents voted yes, 12,566 voted no. Support for the anti-fluoridation movement gained traction in 1965 when 12,218 residents voted yes while 16,801 voted no.

In 1985, a bylaw to provide for the fluoridation of the water supplied by the City of Regina was defeated by a vote of 31,526 to 25,631.

There was another push for a plebiscite in 1997, but the mayor at the time ruled a motion that would have led to a vote was out of order. The ruling was challenged by a city councillor, but was eventually upheld by an 8-2 vote by council.

Hawkins said he’s disappointed that it’s taken so long for this issue to come before council again.

“I feel that had Regina gotten on with this sooner, we could have avoided many cavities in young people,” he said.

Since dental care is not covered under the public medicare system, Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk (Ward 1) says water fluoridation isn’t just about health, it’s an equity issue as well.

“There’s a lot of evidence that, from an equity perspective, poorer kids are more likely to have cavities and tooth decay,” Stadnichuk said during an interview Tuesday afternoon. “A lot of people do not have access to good dental care.”

She lamented the loss of a children’s dental program which offered dental care in schools, but was cut under Grant Devine’s Conservative government in 1987.

“I know that since then there has been an increase of children with poorer teeth,” she said.

The motion asks city administration to adopt a community water fluoridation program similar to Moose Jaw’s and in accordance with Health Canada norms to start once upgrades to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment plant are completed.

Upgrades should be completed by 2025, and space is being made available in the new design to accommodate fluoridation equipment. A one-time cost of approximately $2 million would be needed to purchase equipment and the cost to run the program annually would come in at about $210,000 per year.

According to the motion, fluoridation is widely used across Canada in cities like Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Vancouver.

*Original article online at https://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/city-council-renews-call-to-add-fluoride-to-regina-water-supply