Low-income seniors to get better dental care access

(© Can Stock Photo / monkeybusiness)

Low-income seniors across Ontario will receive millions in dental care support from the provincial government.

The Ontario government says there will be $90 million available each year for seniors’ dental care. The new program is expected to be launched this summer. The money is going toward new resources to underserviced communities, according to a statement from the province. Some services include mobile dentistries and more units in public health offices which could be made available this winter.

The program is available for single persons age 65 and up who have a total income of $19,300 or less and couples age 65 and up who have a total income of $32,300 or less who are without health benefits. Once the program is put into effect, seniors will be able to apply for the coverage.

“Once the program is launched, seniors will be able to get an application from the ministry’s website or public health unit,” said a news release from the government. “Applications will be assessed, and eligible clients will be enrolled in the program.”

Larry Duffield, president of the Windsor Essex chapter of the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP), said this program will be welcomed by an increasing number of seniors who are falling below the poverty line.

“Do we need dental services? … yes, we do,” said Duffield. “If [the provincial government] is moving in that direction, bless their souls. We wish them well and would encourage it.”

Oral health programs are not often well-known to seniors in the region, said Duffield. He used The Downtown Mission in Windsor as an example of where low-income persons are able to use dental services. According to Duffield, the new program is more of a social service than a senior service. Before the funding announcement, no consultations were held in Windsor-Essex that the CARP branch knew about, said Duffield.

“I do hope there is a dental health program out there for seniors and for all Ontarians in need of dental care quite frankly,” he said. “There is a ton of issues out there that require some consideration, federally and dental care is on that list.”