Fluoride Action Network

Regina city council approves community water fluoridation program (Source: Regina Leader-Post)

Source: Regina Leader-Post | August 11th, 2021 | By Lynn Giesbrecht with files from Jennifer Ackerman
Location: Canada, Saskatchewan

City council approved a community water fluoridation program on Wednesday, which is set to begin in 2025.

After decades of failed votes, city council has finally given the green light to add fluoride to Regina’s water supply.

Only Coun. Landon Mohl (Ward 10) voted against the motion after three hours of delegations and discussion both for and against a community water fluoridation program.

“In Saskatchewan there is statistically significant difference in the decay rate in unfluoridated versus fluoridated communities. This has been documented by the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s regular five year research surveys,” said Gerry Uswak, registrar for the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan.

Uswak spoke in support of the motion on behalf of several dental organizations in the province during a city council meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The motion calls on city administration to adopt a fluoridation program similar to what Moose Jaw already has in place. It will begin once the renewal of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Centre is completed in 2025.

Before the motion was put to a vote, Mohl put forward his own motion calling for a referendum to get residents’ input on the issue at an estimated cost of $550,000. He noted this would not be the first time the idea was set before the people for a vote. The city has held four referendums on the topic dating back to 1954, with the most recent in 1985. Fluoridation was voted down each time.

Moh’s motionl was supported only by Coun. John Findura (Ward 5). Mayor Sandra Masters and all other councillors voted against the referendum.

Community water fluoridation has been endorsed by more than 90 national and international professional health organizations as a prevention for tooth decay, according to the motion. Representatives from a number of Saskatchewan organizations, including the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), the Saskatchewan Dental Therapists Association and the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Dentistry, spoke to council on Wednesday in support of the motion.

Kelly Fuchs, a senior health educator with the SHA’s oral health program in Regina, urged council to implement a fluoridation program, saying she has seen firsthand young children suffer from tooth decay in the city. She said many children under the age of five have to undergo surgery and anesthesia in hospital to have all their baby teeth removed or have root canals performed and crowns put in, causing the child pain and self-esteem challenges.

“They’re uncomfortable and now they are having to learn how to eat and how to speak. Some of them have difficulty speaking afterward because they don’t have those teeth to push their tongue up against,” Fuchs said.

When asked if a community water fluoridation program would reduce the number of young children needing these procedures, Fuchs said, “I do 100 per cent absolutely believe that.”

Opposition to the idea remains, as some delegations at Wednesday’s meeting voiced their concerns over such a program.

Regina residents Jim Elliott and Janelle Gerard spoke to council via Microsoft Teams. Elliott said putting fluoride in water would be a waste of money since much of the water used in the city is used for tasks like watering lawns and is not consumed by residents. Gerard said she does not want fluoride in her drinking water and asked questioned whether filtration systems could be provided to all residents who did not give their consent to being part of the community fluoridation program.

Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) first introduced a notice of motion on fluoridation to city council at a July meeting.

— With files from Jennifer Ackerman