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Stakeholders applaud province’s new dental program for low-income seniors

Local stakeholders are welcoming the provincial government’s new dental program for low-income seniors.

The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, introduced in Budget 2019, will provide seniors aged 65 and over in Prince Edward County, Belleville and Quinte West with incomes of $19,300 or less individually or $32,300 or less per couple without dental benefits access to affordable, high-quality dental care.

Scheduled to start in late summer 2019, the plan will be accessed through public health units, community health centres, and Aboriginal Health Care Centres.

“Providing seniors access to the dental care they desperately need can reduce their visits to Quinte Health Care emergency rooms and to primary care doctors’ offices, leading to better health outcomes for all residents,” Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith stated in a media release.

Last year, Quinte Health Care received 1,150 visits to emergency departments at its four hospitals due to dental issues. Chief of staff Dr. Colin MacPherson is hopeful the program will reduce that number.

“A properly funded dental care program for seniors in Ontario will ensure that basic, preventative and emergent dental care is accessible for one of the most vulnerable groups within the Quinte region,” MacPherson stated in the release. “Seniors receiving dental care at various clinics throughout the region will gain access to timely and efficient dental care outside the hospital emergency room.”

Debbie MacDonald Moynes, executive director at the Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors Association, is looking forward to seeing the program support seniors.

“Prince Edward County is the second oldest Census division in Ontario and we are sure there are local seniors who will welcome this support for dental services. Oral health is an important part of everyone’s overall health,” stated MacDonald Moynes.

Smith noted addressing untreated oral health issues can lead to a better quality of life for seniors, allowing them to remain engaged in their communities.

“Our seniors have given so much to develop our communities and our province; it’s time to show them the respect and dignity they deserve. By improving access to service, this program will ensure they remain vital, active participants in our communities,” he stated.

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott recently launched the program with Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho. She said it puts patients at the centre of the care model.

“This is another example of how our government is engaging and listening to patients, caregivers, and frontline health-care providers on ways to end hallway health care,” Elliott stated.

“The health and well-being of seniors across the province is one of our government’s top priorities,” stated 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.”

Filed Under: Local News

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