On Wednesday April 21, I asked a question in Question Period and presented a petition in relation to the continued existence of lead water pipes in Winnipeg. Lead exposure has been shown to be a associated with learning difficulties, behavioural problems, poor performance in school, juvenile delinquency and increased likelihood of crime. Other jurisdictions are addressing this issue by removing lead pipes. Winnipeg is behind in this respect. My question, the Minister's response and the petition are below. I thank Ben Kramer, Hilary Druxman, James Favel and many others for signing the petition.
Lead Water Pipes - Timeline for Replacement
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Deputy Speaker, President Biden recently announced spending of $45 billion to replace all lead water pipes in the United States to prevent lead poisoning of children. Newark, New Jersey, has nearly completed replacing its lead pipes. Regina in Saskatchewan will replace all lead water pipes by 2025.
I table information showing there are 23,000 homes with lead water pipes in Winnipeg. Based on a sample from two years ago, about 20 per cent of these homes have high lead levels in their water.
When will the Province replace all lead water pipes in our province and by which year? And has the Province even completed replacing all lead pipes to all schools and all daycare centres in Manitoba?
Hon. Heather Stefanson (Minister of Health and Seniors Care): Well, I want to thank the member opposite for mentioning President Biden. And we want to actually extend our congratulations and thanks to President Biden for offering, for ensuring and authorizing North Dakota to be able to vaccinate more than 4,000 of our truck drivers here in Manitoba.
And, certainly, Mr. Speaker, I know, on the other issue that the member opposite mentioned, I know that we're working diligently to ensure that we protect all Manitobans when it comes to our water system, and we'll continue to work on that.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly.
The background to this petition is as follows:
Many renters and tenants living in Winnipeg are unaware of the potentially high levels of lead in their drinking water due to lead water pipes.
Drinking water with lead levels higher than 5 micrograms per litre is above Canada's national standard for drinking water quality and may be damaging to health, especially for children and expectant mothers.
According to medical research, renters and tenants unaware of the potentially high lead levels in their drinking water because of old, lead pipes are at risk of experiencing greater levels of mental illness.
High levels of lead in drinking water due to lead pipes disproportionately affects Indigenous and lower income communities. A 2019 intrinsic study used data on lead exposure to predict that many children living in Point Douglas will have high and worrisome lead levels in their blood.
Lack of knowledge of lead levels in water may result in the continuation of ongoing lead-poisoning-related health issues for thousands of renters and tenants living in Winnipeg and elsewhere in Manitoba.
We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:
(1) To urge the provincial government to immediately act by requiring landlords to inform renters and tenants if their rental units have lead water pipes.
(2) To urge the provincial government to provide an adequate number of water filters on an annual basis for tenants where there are rental units with lead pipes.
(3) To urge the provincial government to immediately act by requiring the City of Winnipeg to replace all lead water pipes in Winnipeg by 2027, as the City of Regina is now doing.
This petition is signed by Ben Kramer, by Hilary Druxman, by James Favel and many, many other Manitobans.
For those interested in more information on the impact of lead, please read our report by clicking on this link.