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- Oral Health Advocates Lobby Provincial Government to Make Good on Promise to Extend Dental Coverage to Adults -

Local oral health advocates are encouraging the Ontario government to move ahead now with its promise to provide publicly-funded dental coverage for adults who need it.

The Northumberland Oral Health Coalition is joining with the Kawartha-Haliburton-Brock chapter of the Ontario Oral Health Alliance to ask the provincial government to speed up its plans to extend publicly-funded dental programs to low-income adults and seniors. In last year’s provincial budget, Ontario Liberals made a commitment to extend such dental programs to low-income adults by 2025.

Oral health advocates like Anna Rusak want that promise to become a reality during the government’s current four-year mandate.

“We need to see this happen sooner than 2025,” says Rusak, an oral health coalition member and Health Promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Currently, many adults suffer from dental pain and infection because they cannot afford to get treatment. To make them wait longer is totally unfair.”

The local oral health coalition has made its request known in letters sent recently to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health and Long-Term Care Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins, as well as local MPPs Lou Rinaldi (Northumberland-Quinte West) and Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock).

Local residents are also being asked to lend their voices to the cause by sending an e-cardto Ontario’s health minister. The e-card campaign is a province-wide effort to sell the Ontario government on the merits of introducing public dental programs to low-income adults and seniors now, rather than in 10 years’ time.

“Investing in publicly-funded programs for adults that would pay for urgent dental treatment in community-based clinics would save money in the long run,” Rusak says. “It would prevent needless and expensive visits to the hospital emergency room that only tie up valuable health care recourses.”

Rusak cites statistics obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for 2012 that found 599 visits were made to hospital emergency rooms (ERs) in Cobourg and Campbellford for oral health issues. Of these hospital visits, nearly three-quarters – roughly 450 visits – were considered less urgent and could have been managed elsewhere in the community.

In hospitals in Lindsay, Minden and Haliburton, 1,187 visits were made to hospital ERs in 2012 for oral health issues. Again, most of these visits were considered less urgent and could've been managed elsewhere in the community.

According to Rusak, the Ontario government has made considerable strides in improving access to dental treatment for children and youth from low-income families. At present however, the vast majority of publicly-funded programs in Ontario that pay for oral care are limited to youth ages 17 years and under.

“That means adults and seniors who need dental care, but cannot afford to see a dentist, are falling through the cracks,” Rusak says. “These individuals should not face age discrimination, and need to be given the same access to dental treatment as the government currently provides children and youth.”


For media inquiries, contact:

Anna Rusak, Oral Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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«February 2019»