Doctors across Canada welcome the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP)’s commitment to full dental coverage for all Ontarians, should the ONDP leader, Andrea Horwath, become Premier following the June 7 election.
“It is a great relief to see the idea of publicly funded programs such as pharmacare and dental care begin to gain momentum, as they are both critical to the health of Ontarians,” said Dr Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM). “To have a truly universal and comprehensive medicare system, patients’ best interests should be at the centre of all decision-making – and to do that, we need to ensure all patients have access to the prescriptions they need, as well as dental care.”
“Public coverage for medically necessary care shouldn’t end at the mouth. Ontarians are ending up in emergency rooms or walk-in clinics with serious health complications that could easily have been avoided with preventative dental care,” added Raza. “For example, in Ottawa alone research has shown 1,740 avoidable ER visits for issues better handled by a dentist, a trend that appears to be worsening.”
It is important to note that the ONDP’s proposed publicly funded dental care program is not a full single-payer expansion of Medicare– the model upon which physician and hospital services is built and which is widely proposed for pharmacare – but would rather leverage existing workplace and private insurance plans while also creating a public dental program. Single-payer systems have demonstrated low administrative costs and high degrees of equity when compared to multi-payer systems. Nonetheless, CDM is encouraged that this announcement has started a much needed conversation.
“It is clear that the future of health care in Ontario will be central in the election this spring,” said Raza. “Health care advocates will continue to push all parties to commit to positive investments and changes to our public medicare system so that all Ontarians can receive the best care possible.”
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Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. CDM advocates for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.