Top News

LETTER: Who is going to be the Tommy Douglas of dentalcare?

Calgary has seen an increase in children's cavities since fluoride was removed from the water in 2011, according to a study released in 2016.
File photo

Congratulations to Jack Harris who is now the elected NDP MP for St. John’s East.

We need an NDP presence in Atlantic Canada. I believe that Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats will further their progressive policies, like pharmacare and dental care, for example, in a Liberal minority government.

While the federal Conservatives are oppose to a pan-Canadian public dental health program, the federal New Democrats have long advocated for such a program for all low- and middle-income Canadians.

St. John's Centre MHA James Dinn said Sept. 6, 2019): “There is research that suggests a link between poor dental health and heart disease, cancer, and mental health. Then there is the emotional and self-confidence toll on those with poor dental. They’re embarrassed and isolate themselves. Some have told me it prevents them from looking for a job.

So, we either invest in dental care now or pay much more later. Government does not seem to get this ... From my point of view, dental care is not optional; it’s essential to the health of our people and province.”

Even Dinn’s Progressive-Conservative colleague, Jim Lester the MHA for Mount Pearl agrees with Dinn and I: “...As policy makers and legislators we have moral responsibility of ensuring all members of society have access to health care which includes dental care as an important element therein. But in addition to the morale responsibility we have a fiscal responsibility as well and I have lived by ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ it has been demonstrated and proven time and time again that investment in keeping people healthy is a cost and resource saving investment.” (Oct. 5, 2019)

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador, itself, needs to fill in the gaps like reinstating the adult basic dental program that it eliminated back in 2016. The federal government needs to expand the Canada Health Act to provide federal funds for not just Medicare, but pharmacare, vision care and dental care as well.

The federal NDP plan will provide fully federally funded dental coverage to uninsured individuals whose annual income is less than $70,000 a year. It would pay a portion of costs — on a sliding scale — for uninsured households making up to $90,000. The one major concern I have, though, is what happens with the low- and middle-income Canadians who have either public or private insurance coverage, but still have to look after their own portion, or “Co-Pay”?

Nevertheless, the NDP plan, if implemented will cover a vast array of preventative treatments like X-rays, fillings, crowns, root canals and treatment for gum diseases, as well as the costs of Dentures and Braces for non-cosmetic purposes.

Dr. Gerry Uswak, an associate dean at the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry and past-president of the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, says the NDP plan would relieve a great deal of dental pain and suffering and help with the treatment of other chronic diseases.

“That’s the best use of public funds,” says Uswak, “getting people the care they need sooner rather than later.” (CBC News, Sept. 19, 2019)

Yes it will cost our federal government $860 million dollars to insure approximately 4.3 million Canadians with dental coverage. But with the NDP's policy, our federal and provincial governments will eventually end up saving millions of dollars by preventing or lessening the need of our dental patients from using doctor’s offices, Emergency Rooms and hospitals.

The NDP plan will be a good start towards a universal dentacare plan for all Canadians.

Like former NDP MHA. Gerry Rogers, I have to ask an important question — “Who is going to be the Tommy Douglas of dentalcare?”

Edward Sawdon,
St. John’s


RELATED:

Recent Stories