CALGARY – When Calgarians head to the polls in less than a month, they won’t just be voting for members of the next city council — they’ll also be deciding whether fluoride should be added to the city’s water supply once again.A new poll from ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. shows an overwhelming majority of respondents support fluoridation in the city.
“On a decided vote basis, it’s like three-quarter/one-quarter. I mean, that’s a huge margin on something that’s been such a contentious issue,” said Marc Henry of ThinkHQ.
The poll surveyed 1,109 people between Sept. 13-16 and found 68 per cent of people support fluoride being re-introduced to Calgary’s drinking supply. The survey shows 21 per cent of people are against the idea and 11 per cent are undecided.
It’s those undecided voters that two competing campaigns are trying to sway.
One side, a group called ‘Fluoride Yes!’ says children’s dental health has declined in Calgary in the decade since the city stopped putting fluoride in the water.
“Every major public health, medical and dental organization in North America strongly recommends water fluoridation,” said Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary medical bioethicist and the campaign manager with Fluoride Yes!
“Just as one would say yes to vaccination, one should say yes to fluoridation,” she said.
On the other side is a group called ‘Safe Water Calgary,’ which has concerns about adding fluoride to the water supply once again.
“There’s so many better ways to get this, rather than putting it in city water where it’s uncontrolled,” said Dr. Robert Dickson with Safe Water Calgary.
“Dosage is uncontrolled and there’s better ways, like toothpaste, gels, foams, rinses, whatever. And then people have the choice,” he said.
Next month’s plebiscite will be the sixth time Calgarians have voted on the fluoride issue.
If it is added again, it’s estimated to cost about $30 million over the course of 20 years.
Advance voting for Calgary’s municipal elections starts next week.
ThinkHQ’s online survey of 1,109 adult Calgarians was conducted between Sept. 13 and 16 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.