VIDEO: Tecumseh Joins Windsor in Fluoridation

Fluoridation is a go in Tecumseh.

Tuesday night, council voted to join Windsor in reintroducing the chemical to the drinking water supply.

Tecumseh and LaSalle use Windsor's water supply and with two of three municipalities on board, the initiative will go forward regardless of LaSalle's decision.

Tecumseh mayor Gary McNamara voted in favour stating he based his decision on "expert recommendations and sound science."

He says there was a healthy debate, but most residents he heard from were in favour.

"There's a common thread in the rationale why, it is a health care benefit and this has been an item that's been top of mind for council and certainly a lot of folks for the better part of the last five months. There's been 14,000 or 15,000 emails and letters."

McNamara says council was well informed on the issue and made the right decision.

"Council did their homework and they did a great job in availing themselves with information. The end result is that science trumps innuendos and fear and the decision that was made, I think, is the right one."

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Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara talks about fluoridation after a council meeting on April 9, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

He says he has a tough time going against the advice of health professionals.

"If you can't trust your dentist, your doctor, your Medical Officer of Health, yes there's going to be a lot of noise in the next two to three weeks and there is no middle ground, you're for it or you're totally against it, but I think council made the right decision."

Fluoride was removed in 2013 and officials with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit say data shows cavities and overall oral health have been on a decline since.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the community as a whole as been impacted because everyone drinks water.

"It doesn't follow any specific ethnic group or any specific people belonging to a socio-economic group. It impacts everyone. The decision was made in the right manner and we're really happy to see it finally happening."

Ahmed says children were hit especially hard.

"We track oral health data of all the children in our community, everyone who is attending the public school system. We have seen a significant decline in their oral health and this not only just on data, but also heard from the dentists in the community and various other health care professionals who have seen that since true decline is there."

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The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed talks about fluoridation after a Tecumseh council meeting on April 9, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Ahmed calls the decision a "win for the entire community."

"All of our team at the health unit, our community, our dental professionals, we were all really very passionate about it. We care about the health of our community and we had the data to support it. We've been rallying our messaging, we've been passing all these recommendations to the politicians for their consideration and it finally happened. So we're really pleased with that."

There's no word yet when fluoride will be brought back, but McNamara speculates it'll likely take a year to 18-months.

It'll cost the Windsor Utilities Commission an estimated $850,000 to reintroduce fluoride and then $150,000 a year for system maintenance — it's still unclear how that cost will be split between the three municipalities.