I believe it is essential for Government to be transparent, which is why I, as Minister of Environment and Climate, released a full update on the testing and mitigation of lead in drinking water in Manitoba public schools.
Releasing a report is only one way to make sure you are completely informed. I was proud to announce a campaign to recognize facilities that have demonstrated compliance with the updated national guidelines for lead in drinking water as well.
Our PC Manitoba government and I take concerns about lead in drinking water very seriously, especially in our schools and child-care centres, and we are taking a proactive, whole-of-government approach to address this potential risk to children’s health. Safeguarding our children against lead in drinking water is an ongoing effort, but we want to acknowledge the tremendous progress schools have made in addressing Health Canada’s new lead standard.
Our PC Manitoba government established a $1.6-million grant program to fully fund the cost of testing drinking water taps for lead and for related mitigation activities, which can include filtering the water or eliminating the source of the lead.
Results to date show that over 80 percent of public schools in the province have tested drinking water for lead. Of the schools that have tested, 79 per cent have tested below the lead standard or have completed mitigation efforts where results were elevated. Work is already underway to complete mitigation in many other facilities, the minister added.
All schools with results above the guideline have been provided with guidance on steps to protect students while work is being completed, and efforts are underway to ensure remaining schools are tested by the end of summer. The same support program has been initiated for independent schools and child-care centres, with testing and remediation well underway.
Further information about the testing and mitigation status of all Manitoba public schools is available at: www.gov.mb.ca/sd/water/drinking-water/lead.
Additionally, the Manitoba government is launching a lead in drinking water compliance recognition campaign, which identifies facilities that have been tested and demonstrate compliance with the national guideline for lead in drinking water. Schools and child-care centres that meet the national guideline for lead in drinking water will be recognized with a “certified lead tested” sticker. The sticker demonstrates a school or child-care centre’s commitment to safety and assures parents that steps have been taken to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water, the minister noted.
The provincially funded grant program is being offered in partnership with the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA), which administers the grant and supports schools and child-care centres. MEIA and the Manitoba government are working closely with child-care centres and schools to co-ordinate testing and follow up on mitigation, the minister noted.
“MEIA is proud to partner with the Manitoba government on this important initiative in schools and child-care centres,” said Jack Winram, executive director of MEIA. “Many in our organization have children in school or that attend a child-care centre, and we are pleased to play a role in protecting our children from lead in drinking water as we administer this grant.”
For additional information on lead exposure, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/lead/index.html.