Volume 95, Issue 28

Tuesday, October 23, 2001
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Two Fanshawe students attacked

The world at war

Long wait for beer money... err... OSAP

Call psychic Bob: Western plans future

Tainted water study sickens Walkertonian

Harris leaving; lefties still pissed

More Western Anthrax scares

Tainted water study sickens Walkertonian

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Funding for a tainted water study has been granted to the London Health Sciences Centre, despite misgivings from members of the Walkerton community.

The study will investigate the long-term burden of illness from contaminated water, said Tony Dagnone, LHSC president and CEO.

"It's a landmark study [and] it's headed up by some of the best medical people in this field," he said.

However, the funding decision has some members of a Walkerton group concerned.

"They're proposing London Health Sciences Centre run the study, without accountability to this community," said Bruce Davidson, a member of the Walkerton health study steering committee. "What [the people of Walkerton] suffered was not just the effects of tainted water, but the loss of confidence."

Bill Murdoch, MPP-Bruce Grey, which includes Walkerton, disagreed. "There is accountability in London Health Sciences Centre because it's accountable [to the government]," he said. "[Davidson] doesn't represent the people of Walkerton. I haven't had any calls complaining about [who is running the study]," Murdoch said.

Gord Haugh, spokesman for Ontario Minister of Health Tony Clement, agreed. "Mr. Davidson has made a lot of outrageous statements in the media," Haugh said. "We think it's important to get on with [the study]."

Both Murdoch and Haugh said the steering committee was dragging its feet on deciding the details of the study.

However, Davidson maintained the funding was threatened from the beginning due to the political motivations of the provincial government. "This whole crisis has been based on lack of protocol. [We've seen] a completely inadequate response," he said.

Davidson said Murdoch demanded a politician have a seat on the committee and that funding was threatened when the committee refused.

"No. Quite the opposite," Haugh said. "We set up a committee, they did nothing. They asked for this study and we've approved it."

Davidson views the decision as detrimental to Walkerton because there is no direct involvement from its citizens. "At the end of the day, we want to see this community served," he said.

Dagnone believes the LHSC is capable of doing just that. "We have to remind ourselves that it was LHSC that responded. LHSC played a big role in helping the people of Walkerton [and their] health care needs. We have every intention to work with the community, in fact the first step is to meet with community members," he said.

"There will be a representative from the [Walkerton] community working with this team. This is not a money-maker for LHSC," Dagnone said.

The study is expected to last five years.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001