Senior citizens in Ontario deserve to be respected and live in dignity. Often obstacles and finances have prohibited some seniors from being able to receive the dental care they require. Ontario is protecting what matters most by providing low-income seniors access to quality dental care through a new publicly-funded dental care program that will begin in late summer 2019.
Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced an annual investment of $90 million for publicly-funded dental care for seniors, when fully implemented.
“No senior in Ontario should go without quality dental care,” said Minister Elliott. “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.”
Ontarians aged 65 and over, with an income of $19,300 or less, or couples with a combined annual income of $32,300 or less, who do not have dental benefits, will qualify for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. The services will be accessed through public health units, community health centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres across the province.
“The health and well-being of seniors across the province is one of our government’s top priorities,” said Minister 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.”
Untreated oral health issues can lead to chronic diseases and a reduced quality of life, while also creating a reliance on emergency departments already under increased capacity pressures.
“Dental care for seniors will provide them with the right care and avoid preventable emergency department visits”, said Minister Elliott.
In 2015, there were almost 61,000 hospital emergency visits for dental problems, at a cost to Ontario’s health care system of approximately $31 million. Two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance. Once the program is launched, seniors will be able to get an application form from the ministry’s website or public health unit. Applications will be assessed, and eligible clients will be enrolled in the program.
By winter 2019, the program will expand to include new dental services in underserviced areas, including through mobile dental buses and an increased number of dental suites in public health units.