Good news for seniors in Ontario – the provincial government recently announced a new dental care program.
One of the biggest expenses when it comes to medical treatments is dental procedures. And, for two-thirds of low income seniors, proper dental care can become an issue due to lack of an income, or finances.
However, the province now has a plan to give low-income seniors access to proper dental care through a new publicly-funded dental care program that will begin in the late summer of this year.
Untreated dental problems can lead to chronic diseases and a reduced quality of life. This may also make patients too reliant on emergency departments that are already under increased capacity issues. In 2015, there were almost 61,000 hospital emergency visits for dental problems, which cost Ontario’s health care system approximately $31 million.
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Both Raymond Cho, the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, and Christine Elliott, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, were at the Taibu Community Health Centre in Toronto on April 23, to announce an annual investment of $90 million for publicly-funded dental care for seniors.
“No senior in Ontario should go without quality dental care,” Elliott said. “Our government continues to put patients at the centre of care by providing seniors with the support they need to access high-quality and affordable dental care. We are taking another step in creating a sustainable and connected public health care system that is built for the people and for the future.”
Seniors in Ontario age 65 and over with an income of $19,300, who don’t have any dental benefits will qualify for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. Couples who make a combined $32,300 without dental benefits will also qualify for the program.
“The health and well-being of seniors across the province is one of our government’s top priorities,” said Cho. “For many lower income seniors, it is hard for them to access affordable dental care. This program is putting seniors first by providing the essential services they need and deserve.”
When the program is launched, seniors can get an application form from the ministry’s website or public health unit. Eligible clients will be enrolled in the program after their applications are accessed.
By winter 2019, the program will expand to include new dental services in underserved areas, including mobile dental buses and an increased number of dental suites in public health units.