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Majority Of Residents Want Fluoride Back

Windsor city councillors may be surprised by the results of a survey conducted by the health unit.

Director of Knowledge Management at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Kristy McBeth, says one question in the Community Needs Assessment survey asked participants if they supported fluoride in the drinking water — and 63.8% said yes.

Another 18.4% said no, and 17.8% weren’t sure.

McBeth says there’s a message for health officials in the results.

“What it does show in particular in that 18.4%, there might be room for a lot more education to folks to really let them know what some of those benefits are,” says McBeth.

The fluoride question in the survey had 1,289 respondents. Officials say 400 respondents is considered a statistically significant sample for Windsor-Essex. Neither the assessment nor the survey focused solely on mass public fluoridation programs.

Whether to fluoridate or not has been a controversial issue for years, after some cities and towns across Canada opted out of the program which had been in place since 1945.

Health officials almost universally support fluoridation, but opponents say governments should not be allowed to medicate the populace automatically. Opponents also say there is a link between fluoridation and cancer, but most scientific studies haven’t confirmed the connection.

Recently, the Ontario Legislature passed a non-binding motion calling on all municipalities to either keep fluoride in their water or add it back in.

Windsor city council voted over three years ago to remove it, a motion Mayor Drew Dilkens supported when he was the councillor for Ward 1. He maintains his position, saying if the province feels it should be mandatory, it should pass legislation making it so.

—With files from Ricardo Veneza.