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Feds making it easier to access dental care

MP Patty Hajdu said the more dentists that offer the program, the better it is for Canadians.
Sami Alkahalii Kyler Glenn Dentist
Sky Dental Centre dentist Sami Alkahalii works on the teeth of nine-year-old Kyler Glenn on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY – The federal government is taking action to make it easier for oral health-care providers to treat their patients and submit Canadian Dental Care Plan claims.

Patty Hajdu, member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, called it an exciting day.

“Today dentists will be able to direct bill Sun Life Insurance. For any patient that is eligible for the Canada Dental Care Plan, dentists now don't have to sign up for the program. They can actually direct bill Sun Life.”

Hajdu said the more dentists that offer the program, the better it is for Canadians.

“There are a number of people that don't have coverage either through their own personal benefits or public benefits or for one reason or another don't have coverage under any plan.

“It prevents people from accessing the dentist which then prevents full oral health care. This can lead to all kinds of different health issues – obviously self esteem issues, pain and suffering as a result of decaying teeth and other kinds of health issues. This is a really big deal for Canadians."

Hajdu said she spoke to dentists who are saying this program is transformational for patients who haven't been to a dentist in a very long time.

“I have personally spoken to people who have taken part in the program as patients and have been able to begin a treatment plan for in some cases, years of untreated health issues.”

The coverage has just recently expanded, she said.

“Seniors over 70 are included as well as now people with a disability who have a Canada disability certificate and children under 18.

“Now we're starting to see that all of those gaps that are present in current dental and oral health-care coverage are being filled through a national plan.

“We've worked really closely with Canadians who have talked about different kinds of gaps. I know many Canadians who have called for dental care. It is an agreement with the NDP through the confidence agreement motion that we have in the House of Commons.

“I think it's something that's really important. I've certainly met with constituents over the years, many of whom have actually spoken about the lack of access to care for their oral health issues because they don't qualify through a public pension because they don't have a private pension or because they don't have coverage through their work.

It’s hard to tell exactly how many Canadians have benefited so far, she said.

“We've got two million Canadians approved as beneficiaries of the program and 200,000 have already accessed care. We only anticipate that number to go up," Hajdu said.

“Certainly, in Thunder Bay there are a number of people in particular who have accessed the service. For example older people who have retired through CPP, that don't have coverage, don't have any pension or health-care coverage and have fallen through those cracks of coverage.

Hajdu said she's spoken with constituents who desperately needed the program and local dentists who have seen an uptake in it.

To qualify, the applicant has to have a social insurance number, be able to provide their date of birth, their full name, home and mailing address and then the list of oral health coverage that they might have through any other programs.

“They can work directly with their dentist. That's going to be hugely beneficial for people – that there isn't an application process they have to fill in.

“They do have to provide the identification indicated but then work with the dentist to make sure they understand what's covered and the degree that it's covered,” Hajdu said, adding that people have to also have a family income less than $90,000 to qualify.

She said there are many people in Northwestern Ontario and across Canada who for one reason or another don't have oral health coverage and are unable to access some of the things that many others take for granted.

Some of those services include “cleanings, fillings, repairs to all kinds of different oral health issues, and dental issues that cause an extraordinary amount of suffering in people's lives. It's not just a cosmetic thing, which can also affect people's self esteem, but it's also their health and their wellness.

“There's an opportunity now for people to take advantage of this new program and make sure they are at their optimum health,” Hajdu said.



Olivia Browning

About the Author: Olivia Browning

Olivia’s major life passion would have to be a tie between reading and writing.
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