January 19, 2019

Archives for April 26, 2016

COLUMN: Council common sense

COF-COF News Find 300 x 300By: Phillip Blancher (Opinion), Cornwall Newswatch, Cornwall, Ontario 26-Apr-2016 – Cornwall city council issued a small dose of common sense at their meeting Monday evening. This comes from dealing with a petition to ban train horns at the Tollgate Road grade crossing in Cornwall. The petitioners stated they wanted the horns to stop, as there are other safety appliances in place at that crossing.

The petitioners should get their terminology correct when trying to ban something. Railroad locomotives use air horns, not whistles. Whistles have not been used since the end of the steam locomotive in 1960. Diesel locomotives use an air horn. Each air horn is mandated to sound at a level between 96 and 116 decibels. This is a similar level to an ambulance siren or a rock band performing. Why so loud? So that it can be heard.

The idea of banning anything that helps prevent the collision between a 134 tonne passenger locomotive crossing a road at 160 kilometers per hour and a vehicle is stupid at best. Bells, whistles, horns, and flashing lights, all exist to help keep everyone safe. What is next? Ban seat belts because you don’t like having to use a buckle? The railroad through Cornwall was built in 1855. It has been in operation for 151 years. It is not as if the railroad just appeared out of thin air one day, surprising the neighbours with its existence. If the residents did not want to live near train whistles, don’t buy a house near railroad tracks. It is that simple.

Cornwall council agreed and defeated this petition. If anything came out of this petition, it is that the city’s policy for dealing with petitions needs to change. If you look at the last page of the submitted petition, line 52, readers will see one “Slim Shady” as a signatory. Verification of petitions must be done to avoid wasting time. According to this petition, international rap music star Marshall Mathers a.k.a. Eminem was in Cornwall and no one knew. Legitimate media companies in Cornwall should be ashamed for missing the story. An opportunity lost.

If there is a subject that needed the same common sense applied in Cornwall by council, it is the issue of fluoridation in the drinking water system. The system has been broken for years. There has been ample debate on the merits and issues with putting fluoride back into the drinking water system. The financial cost is known. The experts have had their say. How difficult is it to make a decision on this? Yearly budget consultations take less time and handle bigger issues.

One councillor suggested this should have been a referendum issue on the ballot during the last municipal election. No, it should not. Council of the day voted not to remove fluoride from the drinking water system but didn’t move ahead with fixing the broken system. If the current council wants to spend the money to put it back in, then vote on it and quit wasting time waffling.

Councillor Denis Carr stated that councillors rely on experts to make decisions. To a point the councillor is correct. Except the experts here are biased. Fluoride can be filtered out of the water if you don’t want it, and it would take a lot more treated water than is humanly possible to drink to get fluoride poisoning. The lack of treated water is not going to make much of a difference to children oral health compared to the high amount of sugar ingested due to poor diet. Sugary drinks and cheap junk food are a far greater risk to teeth than a chemical in the water.

If Eastern Ontario Health Unit staff already administer fluoridation treatment programs in area schools, is the expense of adding fluoride to the drinking water in Cornwall needed? Should their efforts not be more focused on nutrition?

What council needs to do is decide the matter once-and-for-all. Call a vote, use common sense, and be decisive. This council has shown it can use common sense, it should not be selective when it does so.


Expanded dental program helps more children in low-income families

COF-COF News Find 300 x 300By: Johanna Weidner, Waterloo Region Record, Region of Waterloo, Ontario 26-Apr-2016 — More children in low-income families will get free dental care, and it will be easier to enrol, through an expanded provincial program.

“Dental health is very important, but access hasn’t always been available to all children,” said Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile at an announcement in Waterloo on Tuesday about the Healthy Smiles Ontario program.

Six publicly funded programs were merged into one on Jan. 1, covering both routine and emergency dental care.

“That’s going to remove barriers that could often be very confusing for families,” Vernile said.

Along with making it easier to access, the changes also mean 70,000 more children from low-income families have become eligible for free dental services — reaching more than 323,000 children and youth in the province.

Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry said that good dental care is vital in childhood, not just for health but also self-esteem and academic achievement.

“Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases and it’s one that’s preventable,” McGarry said.

Left untreated, she said it can cause pain and affect sleep, eating and concentration — “impacting both their growth and development.”

“Unfortunately, sometimes family income is a barrier to getting the care they need,” McGarry said.

Kitchener dentist Christina Heidinger applauded the changes, which were made in consultation with the Ontario Dental Association.

She said the streamlining means more people can benefit and receive “timely, high-quality dental care in their community.”

In her practice, where a portion of clients receive government assistance to pay for care, she sees the difference in children who came in regularly for dental checkups. Later, they bring in their own family.

“These children learned the importance of oral health,” Heidinger said.

When it comes to tooth infections and other problems in children’s teeth, it’s best to deal with the problem before it gets worse.

“It’s very important to try and catch it early.”

jweidner@therecord.com , Twitter: @WeidnerRecord


The battle over fluoride in Cornwall’s water

COF-COF News Find 300 x 300By: Greg Peerenboom, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, Cornwall, Ontario 26-Apr-2016 – Cornwall council members appeared Monday to reflect the general public’s feelings on whether drinking water should contain fluoride.

In other words, all over the place.

Some councillors want it, some don’t and others remain undecided.

A pro-fluoride presentation to council that relied on the science, but also sound public policy, from local medical officer of health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, and chief dental officer of Canada, Dr. Peter Cooney, didn’t convince Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy for one.

“For me to make a balanced decision, I won’t be able to do so,” O’Shaughnessy said in winding up comments to Roumeliotis and Cooney.

Then the mayor admitted: “If there was a vote, I would vote against fluoridation in the water.” which prompted brief applause from the gallery, which was made up of those opposed to fluoride, as well as several city dentists.

He explained that despite a wealth of pro- and anti-fluoride documentation, he doesn’t feel qualified enough in this field to properly analyze it to make a decision based on science alone.

“If there are wise councillors, they make the right decision,” Cooney said, which prodded Coun. David Murphy to reply: “So I have to be a scientist?”

“If you have the right science,” answered Cooney, sparking some chuckling from the gallery.

O’Shaughnessy did, however, feel he could base a decision on the general public’s views, even though “whatever the reasons are of the public, they are not mine to know.”

Earlier, Roumeliotis and Cooney provided a two-pronged approach to show why the city should return to fluoridation, which stopped when an equipment failure occurred in summer 2013. Since then, council hasn’t felt convinced to debate whether they should spend about $300,000 for new equipment that would make the application of hydrofluorosilicic acid at the water treatment plant safe.

Roumeliotis focused his attention on reminding council they would be missing an opportunity to increase the health levels of the city’s poorest residents, whose overall health is compromised by their depressed socio-economic status.

“You’re trying to even the playing field,” said Roumeliotis, explaining that few poor people go to the dentist due to a lack of dental plans and/or limited funds.

Roumeliotis pointed out the most recent data is already indicating that Cornwall children are showing more cases of dental caries (cavities) than in area communities that provide fluoridation, such as Hawkesbury.

Earlier, Cooney explained that for every $1 spent on fluoride, $38 is saved on dental bills.

Cooney also cited that one out of three Canadians don’t have a dental insurance plan, answering a musing about coverage from Coun. Claude McIntosh.

Earlier McIntosh wondered if other ways of providing fluoride treatment should be considered, acknowledging the stance that residents should be given individual choice.

Cooney had explained that European countries utilize milk products, salt and direct intervention at the school level.

Cooney also explained that residents could install a filter in their home to avoid the consumption of fluoride.

The chief dental officer did dwell on science, but not in the detailed specifics that were provided by anti-fluoride crusader Dr. Paul Connett at council’s April 11 meeting.

He pointed to several peer reviews of findings that indicated Health Canada’s continued fluoride support.

For example, Cooney tried to debunk the claim that IQ declined due to fluoride ingestion.

He noted that IQ in Americans increased by 15 points between the 1940s and 1990s. Meanwhile, fluoridation use increased to 67 per cent from 3.3 per cent from 1951 to 2012.

“IQ is keeping pace.”

Cooney also tried to calm fears of fluoride’s toxicity.

For an acute reaction, “you would need to drink 15,000 litres of (fluoride-added) water at one seating.”

For chronic symptoms of fluoride poisoning, he said “you would need to drink 15 litres of water everyday for 10 years.

“That should give you a level of comfort of what’s in the water.”