The Québec public school system and the province’s private educational institutions were required to carry out an analysis of the lead concentrations in their drinking water to ensure that they complied with the maximum acceptable concentration for total lead in drinking water (0.005 mg/L, or 5 µg/L) set by Health Canada, and to prevent the possible effects of lead on health.

The testing process

Québec’s elementary schools have carried out the required tests and identified the corrective measures that needed to be taken. The other educational institutions in the province (secondary schools, adult general education centres and vocational training centres) have until March 1, 2021, to complete the tests and identify the necessary remedial measures.

Priority was given to buildings constructed before 1990, since these are the ones most likely to have lead fittings that do not comply with the recommended limit.

To carry out this operation, the government provided schools with the equipment required to measure lead concentrations in their water supply. Training was also offered to school staff to ensure that these tests were conducted in a rigorous manner. 

Educational institutions can also draw on the services of a government approved laboratory to perform their analyses. In such cases, the institution must assume the related costs. 

Intervention with respect to problematic water supply points

Québec’s public school system and private educational institutions have been issued a document outlining procedure to follow This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only). Water supply points that do not meet the requirements must be identified and immediately condemned until the proper remedial measures have been taken, or until a duly certified filter has been installed.

Test results

School service centres, school boards and private educational institutions have a responsibility to inform parents whenever they determine that the concentration of lead in their drinking water exceeds the required standard. In addition, the test results for elementary schools will be made public as soon as they are available.