Lead Contamination in Tap Water

Last evening I spoke out in favour of a Private Members Motion that instructs the Standing Committee on Infrastructure to undertake a study on the presence of lead in Canadian tap water, municipal efforts to replace lead water distribution lines, and review the current federal efforts to support other levels of government in the provision of safe drinking water.

The Motion was put forward by Bob Bratina, who is a Liberal Member of Parliament and former Mayor of Hamilton.

I am pleased to reach across the aisle and work in a bipartisan manner to advance the cause to eliminate lead from our drinking water.

Even though the federal government has no direct involvement in the maintenance of municipal water systems, I believe that having access to safe and reliable drinking water is absolutely paramount.

Across Canada, there are estimates that close to 200,000 households are currently at risk of lead exposure.

Communities in Westman are not immune, as in 2013 it was reported that a provincial water quality test found that in the City of Brandon, some older homes that had pre-1950 water connections were found to have high lead levels in their tap water.

The study showed that lead contamination was in excess of the National Drinking Water Guidelines and in one example, a water test came back and revealed that lead concentration was five times greater than what is nominally accepted.

I know many residents were surprised to find out that there were homes in Westman that were at risk of exceeding lead contamination in their potable water.

I believe if this Motion is passed, the Infrastructure Committee can bring together experts and stakeholders from across the country and share best practices and work towards solving this problem.

In my speech in support of the Motion, I spoke about the health and safety concerns from lead contamination.

I also highlighted the financial concerns caused by lead found in water pipelines for both municipalities and home owners. For example, the presence of water pipes that contain traces of lead, even after the drinking water has been tested and is found to be safe; can still diminish the resale value of a home.

Moreover, I raised the issue of the installation of water filters as another way to remove lead found in drinking water. I hope the study proposed in the Motion, would inquire into the use of water filters and investigate their effectiveness to guarantee the health and safety of potable water.

This Motion deserves unanimous support and that the Committee consults as broadly and widely as possible.

We should look at best practices used in other countries and across Canada, where municipalities have approached this issue using a myriad of programs and financial incentives.

By working together, we can eliminate lead contamination in our drinking water once and for all.

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