Increase Public Funding for Cochlear Implants

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We, the residents of the province of Ontario and families affected by hearing loss, petition the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to increase public funding for Cochlear Implantation in adults with severe to profound hearing loss. Our petition coincides with the month of May being recognized as the ‘Better Hearing and Speech Month”.

There is abundant evidence in support of clinical and economic value of cochlear implants for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss. However, due to funding limitations in Ontario, many affected adults are waiting years in silence to receive this treatment.  Furthermore, despite the support of evidence for bilateral (two sided) implantation, only one implant is publicly funded for eligible adults in Ontario.

There is growing body of evidence linking untreated hearing loss to other health and social problems:

  • Those with severe hearing loss are at five times the risk of developing dementia as those with normal hearing (Lin FR 2011).
  • Mid-life hearing loss may account for up to 9.1% of preventable dementia cases world-wide and is potentially a modifiable risk factor (Livingston 2018)
  • In older age people with hearing loss are at greater risk of social isolation and reduced mental well-being (Shield 2006; Shield 2018; Pichora-Fuller 2015)
  • Older people with hearing loss are two and half times more likely to experience depression than those without hearing loss (Mathews 2013) and are also at increased risk of major depression (Amieva 2015; Davis 2011)
  • Social isolation has an effect on health (Cohen 1995) and in older people there is a strong correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline (Lin 2013), mental illness and dementia (Lin 2011,2012) and premature death (Friburg 2014, Contrera 2015)
  • Hearing loss is associated with greater use of medical and social services (Xiao 2018, O’Niell 2016)
  • Those with hearing loss have higher rates of unemployment and underemployment (Kochkin 2007)
  • Cochlear implantation in adults improves quality of life, reduces depression and improves cognitive functioning (Mosnier 2015; Lamb and Archbold, 2014 and Ng 2016)
  • The effective use of cochlear implants is cost-effective and gives a return on Investment of 10:1 (Kervasdoue and Hartmann, 2016)
  • People with hearing loss put a very high economic value on the benefit of their cochlear implant (Ng 2016)
  • Downstream costs of NOT providing hearing technologies has been shown to be greater than the cost of providing them. (O’Neil 2016; Kervasdoue and Hartmann 2016)

Our Health system needs to consider the real costs of unaddressed hearing loss. Not providing cochlear implants adds up more costly demands on our health and social care services.

We request that the honorable Minister Elliot address current cochlear implant funding and wait-list concerns to ensure recipients gain access to this technology in a timely manner to optimize patient and health system outcomes.