Free Dental Care in Thunder Bay Fights Poverty
THUNDER BAY – Ontario is expanding eligibility for free dental care to 70,000 more children and youth in low-income families, to help break down barriers and provide them with more opportunities for success. “Today’s announcement is an important piece of our government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Children of social assistance recipients will be automatically enrolled into this new dental program. It will provide eligible children and youth with a simplified enrolment and renewal process, access to a full range of dental services (including cleaning, fillings, extractions and X-rays), and dental coverage for up to a full year,” stated Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle stated, “Our government, led by Premier Wynne, has a very strong track record of support programs that are continuing to help break the cycle of poverty across Northwestern Ontario. By expanding eligibility for free dental care to 70,000 more children and youth in low-income families, we are breaking down barriers for some of our province’s most vulnerable groups, and giving our youth the best possible start in life.”
Starting April 2014, the province will increase access to oral health services such as cleanings, diagnostic services and basic treatment by expanding eligibility for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program. The province will also streamline six existing dental programs into one starting in August of 2015, making it easier for families of eligible children and youth to access timely dental care. This expansion is part of Ontario’s five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy. The 2013 Annual Report released today, highlights progress made since the strategy was launched in 2008. It also outlines the results of recent consultations that will help shape a new five-year strategy, to be released in early 2014.
The Ontario Government Poverty Plan
Ontario’s progress on poverty reduction includes:
- More than 47,000 children and their families were lifted out of poverty and 61,000 were prevented from falling into poverty between 2008 and 2011.
- Over one million children in 530,000 families are being helped by the Ontario Child Benefit.
- Almost 184,000 four- and five-year-olds and their families have benefited from full-day kindergarten at approximately 2,600 schools across the province.
Providing free dental care and helping to break down barriers for low-income children and youth is part of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and delivers on Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, by providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place. This is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate. QUICK FACTS
- The child poverty rate in Ontario fell from 15.2 per cent in 2008 to 13.6 per cent in 2011.
- Though preventable, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, affecting 57 per cent of children and 59 per cent of adolescents.
- In young children, cavities can contribute to poor nutrition, affect their ability to speak clearly, and impede the growth of healthy adult teeth.
- Last year, an estimated 300,000 children and youth were enrolled in or were treated by Ontario’s low-income programs.