On Thursday April 8 I commented in Question Period on the action President Joe Biden is taking in the United States to address lead exposure of children and the need for screening of children in Manitoba as is done in many jurisdictions in the United States. My comments (from Hansard) are below:
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, very recently, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced funding of $45 million. This would go toward the funding of replacing all the lead water lines in the United States.
The United States has been ahead of the curve, recognizing that lead is a very serious neurotoxin and is especially harmful to young children, causing developmental delays, learning disability and behavioural problems. And particularly important to our discussion of education, it results in poor performance of students in schools.
In Manitoba, we are behind on lead screening. Lead screening of children in the United States has been routine. Indeed, up to 30 per cent of children in the United States have been screened every year within their first few years of life. In Rhode Island, the number is up to 70 per cent. In Winnipeg and Manitoba, we have serious problems with lead pollution, and yet we don't have any lead screening of children early in life.
Indeed, in this budget there was a complete lack of any attention to this, as has been the case under NDP and Conservative governments for many years. It is time that we start screening children for blood lead levels so that we can pay attention to where the lead is coming from and we can then proceed with abatement programs effectively.
It's time we act here in Manitoba. I call on the government to act on lead screening of children in our province. Let us help and protect our children