QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Health and Long-Term Care critic France Gélinas warned the Liberals are quietly cutting preventive dental care for tens of thousands of vulnerable kids across Ontario.
“All of us know how painful sore teeth can be and how important it is to maintain good oral health, especially for kids,” said Gélinas. “In hundreds of schools and clinics across the province, public health units provide basic teeth cleaning and check-ups to ensure all children have access to good dental care. But the Liberals are now going to cut this service, affecting tens of thousands of vulnerable kids in Ontario.”
According to Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has informed the public health sector administration that eligibility determination and billing for the new dental programs will be centralized and contracted out, and that local public health agencies will no longer be mandated under Ontario Public Health Standards to provide prevention services to children and youth.
Gélinas said the consequence of the Liberals' cuts to kids’ dental care is truly staggering. In Toronto, the Medical Officer of Health said that over 80 per cent of children who received preventive dental services last year will lose those services. That’s over 15,000 children in Toronto alone. According to Northwestern Health Unit, of the 4,000 children who received preventive dental services last year, 98 per cent of them will lose coverage under the Liberals’ cuts. That means only 80 kids of those 4,000 will qualify for preventive dental coverage going forward.
Gélinas was joined at Queen's Park by a mother whose kids benefited from this preventive dental service and Tim Maguire, President of CUPE Local 79.
'We urge the province to maintain the current eligibility for the great dental programs our members deliver so we can treat all of the kids in need,' said Tim Maguire, President of CUPE Local 79.
“These shocking and appalling cutbacks strike at the heart of vital public health services in our province. By removing these dental services for the most vulnerable children, the Liberals are wreaking havoc with kids’ oral health. I don't believe that a child should suffer with rotting teeth simply because of Liberal cuts,” said Gélinas. “Stop the cuts to preventive dental services and ensure that public health units continue to have the mandate and the funding to provide these vital services to keep kids healthy. Removing preventive dental care from the Ontario Public Health Standardsis simply unacceptable.”