Saint John will no longer add fluoride to the city’s water.
Despite the urging of dentists and doctors at Monday’s meeting of city council, the majority of councillors decided the treatment was not a worthwhile expense and voted to stop the practice.
For Coun. Ray Strowbridge, the decision came down to dollars and cents.
“The business case for the way fluoride is delivered in this city is an epic fail,” he said.
City staff reported that last year it cost $177,000 for fluoride to be added to the water system, with people consuming only 1 per cent of the fluoride added.
Coun. Donna Reardon made a motion to continue the treatment.
“It’s more holistic than just a budget,” she said.
The vote by councillors was tied 5-5, so Mayor Mel Norton had to cast the deciding vote. He voted to stop adding it.
“This is one of those choices that we’re forced to make in light of certain financial realities and priorities as a community,” said Norton.
“We are trying to be exceptional stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars in this city with a view to also being sensitive of providing an exceptional quality of life,” said Norton. “As so on that basis, I’ll cast my vote with the nays.”
Norton reasoned that health care is not a city responsibility and the city’s limited dollars should be spent on recreation and roads.
Dr. Jeff Clark, the president of the New Brunswick Dental Society, reacted to the decision by saving he was “very surprised and disappointed that council put dollars ahead of the health of unfortunate children in the community.”
Clark says the Town of Oromocto is now the last community in New Brunswick that adds fluoride to water.