With Canada ranked among the lowest of the thirty-seven OECD countries for publicly funded dentistry, New Democrats say it’s time for the government to support their proposal to provide dental coverage to millions of Canadians who can’t afford a visit to the dentist. The NDP plan, brought forward by MP Jack Harris, is completely costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and would benefit 6.7 million people in Canada whose household income is less than $90,000 a year.
“Families in Canada are often forced to make the tough decision between caring for their dental health and putting food on the table or paying bills. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse,” said MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay). “The Liberals have been promising Canadians dental coverage for years, but, as seen in last month’s budget, they continue to break their promise. We know that Canadians cannot afford to wait for the Liberals any longer.”
Right now, one in three Canadians don’t have access to dental coverage and more than one in five say the cost stops them from visiting a dentist. New Democrats want to end the gross inequality in access to basic healthcare and show the health and economic costs of the federal government’s inaction.
Left untreated, poor dental hygiene is linked to many serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections and diabetic complications. Emergency rooms across the country are struggling to meet the demand caused by COVID-19. Yet, every nine minutes in Ontario alone, someone visits an emergency room for dental pain, when what they really need is to see a dentist. The estimated cost of these visits across Canada is more than $150 million per year.
“Too many Canadians end up in the emergency room because of dental problems that could be easily prevented if they could afford routine dental care. But paying for regular visits to the dentist is simply out of reach for a lot of people,” said MP Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing). “That’s why we have brought this plan forward to make sure that all Canadians can afford this vital care.”
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