“Our job is to provide safe, reliable, high-quality water to our customers — and our customers have enacted bylaws to add fluoride to the drinking water, at the recommendation of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
“The reality is this is a decision that was made at the municipal council level.”
Fluoridation was originally anticipated to resume in 2021, but supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the plan.
Rossi said $850,000 was budgeted for the reintroduction, and annual costs going forward have been estimated at $150,000. “The infrastructure is not super extensive. We’re not having to build an entire building and delivery structure.”
Dr. Charles Frank, long-time Windsor dentist and current president of the Ontario Dental Association, believes Enwin’s announcement is cause for celebration.
“I’m excited about it. It’s been a long time coming,” Frank said.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the facts are the facts: Scientists agree that community water fluoridation at the recommended level is very safe and very effective at preventing tooth enamel decay.”
“Let’s be clear on this: We tried it without fluoride for nine years, and we’ve seen the result … poor dental health in the community.”
But the news hasn’t been welcomed by all.
The Unifor Windsor Regional Environmental Council issued a statement that it does not support the return of fluoridation.
According to the labour-affiliated group, fluoride is the only chemical that is mass-distributed for medical purposes, “without the consent of the people consuming it.”
“Under what moral authority does any politician think they have to make a decision on behalf of an entire community to add a questionable chemical compound to a public resource, whether (the community) wants it or not?” wrote Richard St. Denis of Unifor Local 444.
There’s also been plenty of negative reaction on the Facebook page “Fluoride Free Windsor-Essex” — an online community group with more than 1,500 followers.
“It’s happening, people,” read one post. “Please raise your objections. Demand a warning be made for pregnant women and new parents.”
Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, the region’s acting-medical officer of health, said on Monday that the return of fluoride in drinking water “is a good thing,” as it benefits community dental health.
“It’s particularly good for people of more disadvantaged social backgrounds,” Nesathurai said.
Health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis said overall dental health in the Windsor-Essex region has fallen below the provincial average, and access to dental health care was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re happy to see that (fluoride) is returning,” Dupuis said.
Windsor had been without fluoride in its drinking water since 2013. City council at the time — including then-mayor Eddie Francis — voted to stop fluoridating, against health unit recommendations.
Five years later, in December 2018, a reconstituted Windsor city council voted 8-3 in favour of resuming fluoridation.
Along with city council having new members, a major factor in the vote was the health unit’s 2018 Oral Health Report, which pointed to a significant decline in regional dental health, especially among children.
According to that report, the average number of cavities among Windsor-Essex residents has steadily increased, and there was a 51 per cent rise in serious tooth decay among children over the age of five.
But Ward 1 Coun. Fred Francis argued at the time that the health unit’s study didn’t show direct correlation between the removal of fluoride and the rise in tooth decay.
“It’s very heavy-handed, in my opinion,” said Francis — who, like his brother Eddie, voted against fluoridation.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens was another notable vote against fluoridation.
It was Dilkens’ 2013 motion, when he was a councillor, that led to Windsor stopping fluoride in the first place.
The mayor declined to comment on the recent Enwin announcement.
*Original article online at https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/fluoride-returns-to-windsor-tecumseh-lasalle-drinking-water