Alberta Party says they will push for fluoride in water if elected

A dental health advocate in Calgary is working to make drinking water fluoridation a campaign issue.

There's already one political party on board — the Alberta Party said Friday that if elected, the government will place a greater focus on preventative health, including the fluoridation of municipal drinking water.

"Research has shown that fluoride works, and we would encourage municipalities across the province to make the investments necessary to protect their children, their families," said Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel.

Mandel said that if elected, his party wouldn't interfere in municipal decisions related to fluoride, but would encourage putting it back into drinking water, and would even help with research and financing.  

Calgary pulled fluoride from its water eight years ago, despite groups such as the Alberta Dental Association, the Canadian Pediatric Society and Alberta Health Services supporting fluoride in the water.

As part of the Alberta Party's dental strategy, Mandel also said his party would also bring in free annual dental checkups for kids under 12 — and allow kids to have two free X-rays at age 10.

Dave Gilson/CBC

Denise Kokaram is an oral health consultant, and part of an advocacy group planning to meet with each political party ahead of the election in an effort to cut down on tooth decay in Calgary. 

She said, often, a lot of the conversation from municipal government centres around the cost of putting fluoride in the water.

"To [have a provincial government] actually step up and offer some assistance around how that can happen, I think would be hugely beneficial to the municipalities," Kokaram said.

"So from the different parties we'd really like to hear what their views are, what their positions are on oral health and how they would in their health platforms promote oral health in the province."

"I suppose if the province is planning on paying for all of the upgrades to the water systems and for fluoride itself then it's a provincial issue in some ways and a public health issue," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

"I also do believe that sometimes you want to make sure local municipalities have control. So I'd have to really look at their proposal and see what it implies for us."

Calgary has approved a study that will look at the impact of its decision to remove fluoride from the city's tap water. The study's findings are expected to be presented to council by June.