Improve Access to Dental Care in Ontario for Vulnerable Populations
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OHIP does NOT cover health care for our teeth and gums. About 17% of people in our province – that’s 2.3 million – cannot afford to visit a dentist or dental hygienist. They experience pain and infection, and often have nowhere to turn but the emergency room, where they can get only painkillers and no treatment.
Research by Association of Ontario Health Centres using MOHLTC data has found that there are almost 61,000 visits to hospital Emergency Room each year and 222,000 visits to doctors for dental pain and infection. This costs the healthcare system at least $38 million annually.
Since 2010, Ontario has been offering free public dental programs for children from low-income families, but they are not reaching enough kids. In 2014, the Ontario government promised to extend programs to adults on low incomes – but not until 2025. But we do not see any progress on this promise. Lack of access to oral health care is an urgent situation where people in pain cannot wait nine more years for treatment. When can our health system ensure that people in need have access to the oral health care they require to be healthy?
We ask the government to consider what the Ontario Oral Health Alliance recommended:"
- The 2017 Ontario budget invest $10 million to support the first phase of a public program to provide oral health care to low-income population in the province;
- This funding should be flowed to maximise use of existing public investments in dental clinic infrastructure in Community Health Centres (CHCs), Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs) and Public Health Units so that they could extend their services to low-income populations
- CHCs and AHACs are already providing primary health care and support services to vulnerable people, so it makes sense to include oral health services for low-income adults as part of their circle of care.
- This would be the first phase of a broader program to ensure access to public oral health services for all low-income adults and seniors in Ontario by 2025."
It’s time for our government to extend the public dental care program to more people in need. Please, sign my petition and let our Health Minister Eric Hoskins know that people in dental pain cannot wait till 2025 – we need government's action now!
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