New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael called media to the lobby of Confederation Building Wednesday to talk about problems with the government’s adult dental program.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. — Telegram file photo
Michael said that during budget debate this spring, she was told that $2.5 million budgeted for dental work for seniors and people with low incomes has not been spent.
Speaking to media alongside Michael was Joan Andrews, a denturist who said that government policies are causing major problems for her clients.
“Denturists now have in excess of over a thousand clients waiting for new teeth,” Andrews said.
“Nothing is being done. All these people are still waiting. I have seniors who are in old age homes looking forward to teeth who can’t get them now.”
The government announced subsidized dental services for people in poverty and for seniors, but then had to scale back the eligibility after more people came forward needing dental work than had been expected.
Now, Andrews said that people are getting letters from the government telling them they’re eligible, but then when denturists go to get the work approved, they run up against processing delays.
“Nine months is long enough to process a claim that’s already been processed. The letters have gone out,” she said.
Michael said she wants an answer from the government as to why there are all kinds of delays in the system, and budgeted money isn’t getting spent.
“Government has to acknowledge and tell people why that money has been left unspent while people who are eligible — have been told they’re eligible — have not been able to get the money,” she said.
“Government put a cap on the amount of money an individual would get — a cap of $150 — and we believe that cap has been one of the reasons why this has happened, because the cap means that people would have to come up with the rest of the money themselves for the jobs that are being done on their teeth.”