What do Calgarians have to say about the water fluoridation delays?
By Arroy (AJ) Jacob, Staff Writer
From where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet, there is water flowing to every home and business, sustaining any Calgarian who cranks open the faucet. But for decades now, Calgarians have thought twice before filling up their glasses as they stop to consider the implications of their water in the long run. The debate for fluoride in our water supply is an example of this conundrum.
Fluoride is already a natural mineral in our water supply—we consume it everyday. In fact, Calgary had introduced 0.7 mg/l (the suggested concentration) of fluoride in our water since 1998, but was discontinued in 2011 by the Calgary Council over their fear of overarching costs. In the 2021 General Election, 64 per cent of Calgarians voted “yes” to reintroduce fluoridation.
Juliet Guichon, the President of Calgarians for Kids’ Health and the Fluoride Yes! campaign says in policy options that “Evidence over more than 75 years shows that [water fluoridation] significantly reduces cavities in children and provides further benefits throughout life.”
But Councillor Andre Chabot, who sat on the Council’s decision in removing fluoride in tap water voted “no” in the proposal for reintroducing fluoride because “the costs presented in the reintroduction plan were underestimated” he says in an article for CBC News.
The issue? 66 per cent of Calgarians voted “yes” to fluoridation, but the reintroduction plan was delayed until September 2024.
Now in November 2023, what do Calgarians have to say about their decision?
“Is it really worth it?”
Rachel George, a student in MRU’s Bachelor of Science program has been living in the city for two years. “In my molecular genetics class, we learned about how a cell can choose whether a protein is either necessary, (a cell requires that protein to function), or sufficient, (a cell can live without it). That’s what this debate reminds me of.”
“There are cities in Alberta that don’t have fluoride and are not complaining. Meaning that fluoride in our water is not something we need at the moment.
Maybe in the future when there is a better budget, or more money. Point is, fluoride is sufficient for our water, but not necessary.”
“I didn’t know about the costs.”
Isabel Akade is an MRU Bachelor of Business student and lived in Calgary most of her life. She voted “yes” for the reintroduction of fluoride.
“But now I regret it. In the poll they just said ‘Do you want fluoride back in our water?’ And me, not knowing much about the history and stats of our budget, just said yes. But that’s because I was oblivious to why the Council voted ‘no’ to begin with,” she says. “I didn’t know about the costs.”
“I think it was a little untruthful for them to just ask me for my opinion on something when they don’t give me the stats behind it. That doesn’t make me qualified to give an opinion. Knowing what I know now, I would have said no!”