Following the introduction of the Safe Water for Schools Act by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, the BC Teachers' Federation is urging the provincial government to support the bill in an all-party show of support for safe drinking water for students and all school workers.
“Schools must be a safe place for all children, youth, and staff,” says BCTF President Jim Iker. “That's why teachers are very supportive of legislation that will help protect our schools from contaminated drinking water. I hope the provincial government will support this important and practical private member's bill.”
The growing concern about lead in school drinking water systems started after a teacher in the North Coast had water tested after a failed classroom experiment on salmon eggs. The following tests found contaminated drinking water at four schools in Prince Rupert, several years after initial concerns were raised. As news about the drinking water problems came to light, delegates at the BCTF Annual General Meeting in March passed an emergency resolution to “demand that the Ministry of Health immediately test the drinking water in North Coast schools, and that a regular water monitoring program be developed province wide.”
“British Columbians should be alarmed any time there is lead found in our drinking water systems,” says Iker. “Any lead in drinking water is unsafe and unacceptable in our schools.
“The proposed legislation is straight forward and pragmatic. It calls for regular testing of drinking water in schools and the creation of mitigation strategies when health standards are not met. There is no reason this bill should not receive unanimous support in the Legislative Assembly.”