Lisa Gervais: Province has to address dental care
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 2, 2017|
There were 472 dental-related visits to the Haliburton Hospital in 2012. Those visits cost Ontario’s health care system $513 per visit. That is $242,136. Yes, almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars.
These statistics come from the Ontario Oral Health Alliance – Kawartha Haliburton Brock Chapter.
The group told us that all of that money was spent while providing little relief for patients.
At the hospital, there isn’t much that can be done for teeth and gums allowed to deteriorate because the patient hasn’t been able to afford regular dental checkups because they have no or low income or benefits.
Therein lies the problem.
It isn’t a new. Calls for denticare, similar to medicare, have been voiced for years.
Local MPP Laurie Scott has been circulating a petition in hopes of pushing the issue yet again. So far, more than 1,000 people in the riding have signed it. She plans to present it in the Ontario Legislature soon.
In Ontario, it’s estimated one in five people don’t go to the dentist because they can’t afford it. It would seem Haliburton county mirrors, if not exceeds, this stat.
After all, the Volunteer Dental Outreach or VDO has seen 700 patients since 2011. Patients are screened for the service. Had they paid out of pocket it would have been close to $2 million.
The VDO does great work, but it isn’t the answer.
The province has to step up. The oral health promoter for the local district health unit said the situation is as bad as it’s been in her 12 years.
The government spends only 1.3 per cent of its health budget on oral health services.
The government pats itself on the back over its dental coverage for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients as well as its Healthy Smiles program. It’s not enough.
As the VDO’s Lisa Kerr says, imagine if that quarter-of-a-million dollars spent on those hospital visits in 2015 were redirected into preventative dental care for adults and seniors, or treating emergencies before necessitating a trip to the hospital.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care admits to funding more than $30 million province-wide for dental problems – from 61,000 hospital visits. Surely it knows this isn’t a good use of taxpayers’ money?
Meanwhile, a reader passed on a letter she received from Scott’s colleague, Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier.
He’s going after Premier Kathleen Wynne for her government’s “Hydro fiasco.”
He says if you’re as outraged as he is about the cost of electricity, photocopy your bill – with a note to the premier asking when you can expect a substantial reduction – and send them to him. He promises to put them in Wynne’s hand.
Wynne announced a 25 per cent reduction in Hydro costs this week. His Perth office is at: 1-105 Dufferin St, Perth, Ont., K7H 3A5. The Toronto office is: Room 207 North Wing, Legislative Building, Queens Park, Toronto, Ont. M7A 1A8.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, the next provincial election will be held on or before June 7, 2018. It appears the Conservatives are beginning to campaign in earnest.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.