Fluoride Action Network

Peel Region expected to vote on removing fluoride from drinking water

Source: The Star (Toronto) | January 26th, 2016 | By San Grewal, Urban Affairs Reporter
Location: Canada, Ontario

Some Peel councillors want the region to join the growing list of municipalities who no longer add FLUORIDE to drinking water.

As an increasing number of municipalities across the country remove fluoride from their drinking water, Peel region councillors are asking why the provincial and federal governments continue to push for fluoridation while leaving ill-equipped municipalities responsible for mandating it.

“If they think it’s so important, that there would be such bad health and medical consequences without fluoride in the drinking water, then why don’t they (the federal or provincial governments) take responsibility?” asked Brampton and Peel Region Councillor John Sprovieri, following a closed-session workshop where the pros and cons of fluoride were presented. A vote by Peel council on whether or not to remove fluoride is expected in the coming weeks, councillors said.

The federal government says fluoridated water is critical to public health, but it leaves responsibility for implementation to lower levels of government.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada strongly support water fluoridation as a safe and cost effective public health measure to prevent dental decay,” stated Eric Morrissette, a spokesperson for both agencies, in an email Monday. “The federal government does not have the authority to impose requirements for fluoride in drinking water in the provinces and territories.”

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins likewise says fluoridated water is crucial.

“Tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease among Canadian children and can lead to a number of other health conditions. Poor oral health is linked to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even low birth weight in babies,” he wrote in an email Monday.

“I urge all municipalities to ensure that they continue to protect their communities from avoidable health issues by maintaining fluoride in their drinking water.”

If Peel council drops fluoride it would follow the lead of other cities across Canada, such as Quebec City, Calgary, Waterloo, Windsor and Saint John, that have removed fluoride from public drinking water.

“(The federal and provincial governments) have health ministries, all the experts and scientists on their staff. We don’t,” Sprovieri said Monday. He would like to see fluoride removed, citing a growing body of research suggesting it’s no longer necessary because of all the other ways people now receive fluoride, such as toothpaste, oral washes, cereal, and other food products.

And despite the increasing number of cities across North America quitting the decades-long practice — to cut costs, because of reports of negative health effects from a range of toxins in industrial fluoride such as bone problems and better ways to get fluoride on teeth — Sprovieri says the argument he and other councillors will use is that it’s an issue beyond the expertise of municipalities. “City councillors should not make this decision. It’s simply not an issue we’re capable of properly debating.”

He and the others on Peel council who told the Star they’ll vote to have the practice suspended until Ottawa or Queen’s Park mandates it, will face stiff opposition. On Monday, all three Peel mayors — Caledon’s Allan Thompson, Brampton’s Linda Jeffrey and Mississauga’s Bonnie Crombie — released a joint statement in support of the continued fluoridation.

“Regardless of income, education or employment, residents of all backgrounds benefit from access to safe and effective fluoridation in their drinking water,” Crombie stated.

“Removing fluoridation will widen the gap between the rich and poor. It is unacceptable and irresponsible to make life harder for our most vulnerable residents. The very families unable to afford ongoing dental care treatment will have their oral health at risk without fluoridation.”

Asked to comment on what Sprovieri and other Peel councillors told the Star, that if it’s such a crucial medical issue why isn’t Ottawa or Queen’s Park responsible for it, Crombie responded: “In Peel, we have a system that isn’t broken. This is about putting public health before politics.”