It was a debate based upon science steeped in the need to find the funds on how to pay for it but in the end Council decided to spend $1.2 million to upgrade its fluoridation system at the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant leaving it up to Adminnistration to make recommendations on where to find the cash.
“We do know the benefits of fluoride are indisputable. Fluoride is the most effective to prevent dental treatment irregardless of means,” Dr Olanrewaju Medu medical health officer for Saskatchewan Health told Council.
Dr Medu was at Council to provide expert information as to the medical effects of fluoride in drinking water. At their December 4th special Council meeting a decision was made to table a report on whether or not to upgrade and restore fluoridation system until a public health officer provided their expertise interpretting a recent study on the subject.
In his expert analysis Dr Medu said the recent study published by the prestigious Journal of American Medical Association on the effects of IQ of children whose mothers drank fluoridated water should be viewed as lower level research due to the manner in which the study was set up and conducted.
He said the study was set up as a cohort study and it is not the best means to show causation as there are many variables which could explain or skew the results. Things such as the environment and nutrition, which he said were not tightly controlled in the study, could effect and skew the results.
“Correlation does not always equal causation,” he said.
Dr Medu said a similar study out of Sweden where fluoride naturlly occured at higher levels than fluoride added to drinking water in Canada did not have the same results.
Read Dr Medu’s complete report to Council … [click here].
Asked by Councillor Crystal Froese why Regina did not fluoridate their water he said he could not answer the question.
“I am not able to speak as to why the City of Regina has that.”
She would later ask in the debate what the potential would be to partner with Regina if they chose to fluoridate their water as a way of spreading the cost and reducing the burden on the City.
“I am hearing the doctor say this is essential maybe we should reach out to Regina and ask to partner with this,” Councillor Froese said.
Councillor Chris Warren said he had been reviewing some of the information about fluoride being a neurotoxin and asked Dr Medu for his opinion on the matter.
“Based upon that evidence that has not been born out…as to the neurotoxicity effect that has not been found,” he replied.
Councillor Warren asked about studies which showed that fluoride helps to attract lead out of pipes and increase the concentration in water Dr Medu said it is possible but only where fluoride levels are well above the amount Moose Jaw has been recommended to add to its potable water.
“We say fluoride is safe,” Dr Medu said.
During the debate on whether or not to install an upgraded fluoridaton system and spend the 1,2 million necessary to perform the upgrade Council said it was a controversial issue with evidence and supporters on both sides of the issue.
Councillor Scott McMann said he was “not weighing in” and taking sides on either side in the scientific debate but rather his opposition was based upon the $1.2 million cost. At the December 4th meeting Councillor McMann said when the issue had been previously discussed before that meeting he had not been made aware of the exact cost as it was much higher than he had anticipated.
“I don’t think we can afford it. Folks that want it can get it for themselves,” Councillor McMann said.
He questioned what would Council’s response would be if the price of an upgraded fluoridation system had been higher.
“If it is a $5 million cost then what?” he asked.
“I don’t think this is our role to be funding this,” Councillor McMann said, adding “somewhere along the line we have to say we cannot be all things to all people.”
Councillor Chris Warren said it was an emotional debate but none of the citizens who had contacted him had raised imediate concerns about the fluoridation system which has not been functioning for at least a year.
“I have not had one citizen come to me and say that system is down get it up and running again,” he said adding “I would like to see some feedback from the community about it.”
Councillor Heather Eby said she had been approached by citizens on both sides of the issue.
“I have had a number of emails and conversations over the last seven days…it has been very strong on both sides,” Councillor Eby said. “I have to weigh the science.”
She gave analytical evidence from a dental technician who said there was a marked difference between the dental health of Moose Jaw children where there is fluoridation and Regina where there is no fluoridation.
“There are hundreds and thousands of things we cannot protect children from but in dental health we can make a difference…if it was just about money maybe I would say no…think about the less fortunate children who cannot afford to go to the dentist.”
“I believe the science and anecdotals are strong…if people don’t want it they can filter it out,” Councillor Eby said.
Mayor Fraser Tolmie said he supported restoring and upgrding the present fluoridation system.
“The serious side is there is some science behind this…a lot of articles being forwarded to me are reports of reports and it gets watered down…I would be in favour of a fluoridation system for our City…there is some benefit to it,” Mayor Tolmie said.
Councillor Brian Swanson said he supported the science but the last minute introducution of the funding request was unfortuante.
“Consultation of people knowledgeable in this is so overwhelming. I think it is our responsibility to ackowledge that. It is unfortunate this is last minute,” Councillor Swanson said.
Councillor Waren said although he supported fluoridation he would like to have time to review more on the subject as well as have the opportunity to have feedback from Moose Jaw residents on the subject. He mentioned the subject had been dealt wth at special Council meetings with no public notice to resdents as well as the informtion coming forward to the public came from the media.
A motion to have the issue deferred until a later date was defeated with only Councillor Warren and Froese supporting it.
Councillor Warren went on to site statistics about how 35 percent of Canadian municipaltities had fluoridation programs and there was no evidence presented the 65 percent who did not have fluoridation were unhealthy and had major tooth decay.
“I am not in support of this process of passing this at the last moment without consultation.”
City engineer Josh Mickelborough said the request for the design work had previously been approved by Council and the request to do the necessary capital work was now being made after that work had been completed.
“With the design complete we are waiting for this to go to tender,” Mickelborough said.
It was revealed Council had approved the design work as part of a change order at their April 22nd 2019 meeting to spend $98,488 to design a new fluoridation system. There was no estimated capital cost in the package for the proposed fluoridation system just the design costs. In the package to Council there was letter of support from a medical health officer in support of fluoridation.
“The debate should have happened in April or May,” Councillor Eby said.
Councillor Dawn Luhning said any comments which had been made that Council was unaware of the fluoridation system until recently were untrue.
“We cannot always consult with citizens we were elected to make decisions,” Councillor Luhning said.
In a 6 – 1 vote Council approved issuing tenders for the fluoridation system and safety upgrades to the building housing the system leaving it up to Administration to provide recommendations on how to pay for it with Councillor McMann opposed.
*Original article online at https://www.mjindependent.com/home/2019/12/12/fluoridation-recommended-by-six-out-of-seven-council-members-3hakx