Québec’s public schools and private educational institutions were required to carry out an analysis of the lead concentrations in their drinking water to ensure that they do not exceed the maximum concentration of five micrograms per litre (5 µg/L) recommended by Health Canada to prevent the possible effects of lead on health.

In March 2019, Health Canada changed the recommended standard from 10 to 5 µg/L. The Québec government was the first in Canada to adopt this new standard, which is one of the strictest in North America.

Testing process

School service centres (SSC), school boards (SB) and private educational institutions were required to carry out the requisite tests and identify the corrective measures that needed to be taken. 

Québec’s public school system and private educational institutions were provided with a procedure document describing the steps to be taken This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only). Water supply points that did not meet government requirements had to be secured immediately. The appropriate corrective measures (such as the installation of duly certified filters) were then taken.

For expert support in this undertaking, and to ensure that it would be successful, the Ministère de l’Éducation drew upon the expertise of Professor Michèle Prévost, an engineer and world-renowned expert in the field of drinking water treatment and distribution. The Ministère also set up a technical orientation committee to coordinate and standardize corrective action on water supply points that did not meet the government criteria and to promote discussion on remedial solutions. Professor Prévost, along with representatives of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, the Association québécoise des cadres scolaires, the school service centres and the school boards all contributed to this process. 

Test results

School service centres, school boards and private educational institutions are responsible for informing parents whenever results indicate that the concentration of lead exceeds the recommended safe level. 

The overall test results for all SSCs, SBs and private educational institutions may be consulted in the lead testing report (PDF 869 Kb) (available in French only). Detailed reports on the analyses of the lead concentrations in the drinking water are also available, in French only, from public and private educational institutions. If you wish to receive a copy of these reports, please contact the institutions.