Peel Region council has been told it could be legally liable for harming residents whose health is put at risk by fluoridated water.

“Not only is the region responsible and liable to the people of Peel, individual councillors are responsible and liable,” said lawyer Nader Hasan, who is representing the group Concerned Residents of Peel.

He told council that Charter rights protecting against government-inflicted harm are being violated. Hasan warned that if fluoride is not removed, a costly legal battle could unfold.

The group, with the help of Councillor John Sprovieri, wants fluoride removed from drinking water because of possible health risks such as bone cancer. He wants experts on both sides to present updated evidence.

Council voted to defer a move to reopen the issue until September, when the region’s legal staff will present an opinion on Hasan’s arguments.

In 2007, Health Canada stated the practice is safe at the levels allowed in the country.

In 2011, the City of Toronto public health board, facing some public pressure, moved to continue fluoridating the water supply. In 2012, Halton Region council narrowly voted (11-9) to retain fluoride.

Numerous studies around the world suggest low-level fluoride poses no health risks and is very effective in fighting tooth decay.

Hasan argued many of these studies are outdated or were not peer reviewed.

Jurisdictions across North America, such as Calgary and Windsor, have removed fluoride from drinking water recently, but GTA municipalities have yet to follow the trend.

“Many jurisdictions, including all of western Europe, are not fluoridated,” Hasan said. “Yet we see rates of tooth decay going down in these jurisdictions.”

Mississauga resident Liesa Cianchino, a founding member of the residents’ group, helped push the issue onto the council agenda.

“Too many people are getting sick,” she said after the presentation.

Read legal brief that includes the affidavit of Kathleen M. Thiessen, PhD.

See Hasan’s presentation to the Peel Council at