Irek’s Votes – December 17, 2018

ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
10.1 Recognition of Corporate Sponsors Yes 10-0 Presentation
11.3 Bruce Avenue Park Redevelopment Yes 10-0 Consent
8.2 Appointment of Meeting Investigator Yes 10-0 Delegation
8.25 Denial of Closure of alley b/w Riverside and Chatham Yes 10-0 Delegation
11.1 Parking Enforcement – status quo Yes 10-1 Delegation
11.5 Oral Health Report: Fluoride Yes 8-3 Delegation
11.2 Letter regarding public health inspections Yes 10-0 Consent
11.4 Sandwich Street roundabout update Yes 10-0 Consent
       

 

ITEM 11.1 Parking Enforcement – Status Quo: I voted in support of maintaining the current model of parking enforcement and the current contract.  In short, residents are satisfied with the existing model.

ITEM 11:5: Follow Up to WECHU Oral Health Report 2018

The problem of tooth decay and poor dental health is real in our community of Windsor-Essex – and I thank the health unit and the delegates from the medical community for raising this important issue and bringing compelling evidence to the forefront.

More children are having more problems with their oral health in our community, and the decline among our young people is growing faster than in other parts of Ontario.

That decline in oral health started and accelerated before the removal of fluoride from our water system.  For example, the largest decrease in the percentage of children that did not require any dental intervention happened between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 – representing consecutive year-on-year decreases of 15 percent in children’s oral health – in the two years before fluoride was removed.  That fact indicates to me that there is something bigger than city-wide water fluoridation that is driving this problem:

  • We know diet matters.  Sugar is the major culprit.  Sugar is in everything and in bigger quantities than ever before.
  • We know good oral hygiene like brushing your teeth matters
  • We know access to dentists and regular visits matter

That is where our focus should be.

The evidence that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay is strong – but it is not without valid questions and challenges and it is not a silver bullet.  It does not address the underlying drivers of this very real public health problem.

The evidence from programs such as Childsmile in Scotland – where the percentage of children with no tooth decay increased from 54 per cent to 68 percent over an eight year period – demonstrate that the incidence of tooth decay can be reversed dramatically in a community if stakeholders come together and offer programs that target those negative drivers:

  • Intervening in daycares and elementary schools in vulnerable communities to provide the basics of oral health (toothbrushes, toothpaste) as well as access to professional dental care (dental visits, varnish applications) including behavioral coaching (supervised brushing for children) and finally access to healthy food options.

If we are going to step up and address the significant oral health challenge in our region – all of us need to get beyond debates that divide us, and we need to come together – we need to understand each stakeholder’s role and recognize each stakeholder’s strength in this battle.

Fundamentally, it is the Ontario Ministry of Health that ought to lead on this front, and the decision on fluoride should be made at the Provincial level, which regulates issues of health.  However, we cannot wait on the Government of Ontario to lead.  The emerging crisis of declining oral health in our children in our region of Windsor-Essex is real – and the negative impact on children’s health is clear.

In this circumstance – it is important to note that no credible scientific studies have demonstrated any link between the presence of fluoride in drinking water at 0.7 ppm and any negative health impacts.  At the same time, a large body of scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of fluoride to oral health.

Adding fluoride to our water system is not a magic bullet – but it does have benefits.

For that reason – I support the motion.