Doug Ford Will Invest in Dental Care for Low-Income Seniors

Published on May 12, 2018
Latest in a series of commitments to help Ontario seniors
An Ontario PC government will support Ontario seniors by implementing a comprehensive dental care program that provides low income seniors with the quality care they deserve, Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford announced today.
 
“Many Ontarians have dental insurance but two-thirds of low income seniors do not and cannot afford it,” said Ford. “Under a PC government, low income seniors will receive the high quality dental care they deserve — and it’s all on us. Because, in Ontario, we take care of those in need.” 
Ford highlighted that an Ontario PC Government will take action to ensure Ontario seniors can live with dignity, pay their bills, and receive the quality health care they need when they need it. 
 
“We’re going to reduce hydro bills by 12% to help Ontario seniors make ends meet,” said Ford, “we will also create 30,000 new long-term care beds that will put an end to hallway health care and give people the care they need in the most appropriate and dignified setting.”
 
Ford highlighted how the Kathleen Wynne Liberal Government has failed Ontario seniors during their long 15 years in power.  Ford also pointed out the NDP’s history of propping up Kathleen Wynne’s government while copying Wynne’s tax-more, spend-more, and waste-more approach.
 
“While we should never forget that the Liberals created this problem, we should also remember that the NDP helped them do it,” said Ford, “today the NDP continues to watch, learn and copy from Kathleen Wynne’s tax and spend approach to government.”
 
“Our seniors built this province. They took care of us. And it is time we repaid them for all they sacrifice, by doing more to take care of them,” Ford concluded. “If you are a senior or family member worried about the future, we will be there for you. Change is coming and help is on the way.”

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Backgrounder – Seniors

Dental Care for Low-Income Seniors:

  • While two-thirds of Ontarians have dental insurance, for low-income seniors that number falls to approximately one-third.[1]
  • It is estimated that 2-3 million people have not seen a dentist in the past year, mainly due to cost.
  • Many seniors on fixed incomes cannot afford dental care. An inability to afford preventative dental care, results in many seniors turning to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
  • In fact, there were almost 61,000 visits to emergency departments for oral health problems in 2015 (or someone visiting the ER every 9 minutes because of dental pain), and the Association of Ontario Health Centres estimates it costs the province at least $31 million annually.[2]
  • Kathleen Wynne has let low-income seniors suffer without dental care, putting further burdens on hospitals that are already pushed to the limit.

How We Will Fix It:

  • Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs will support our seniors by introducing dental care for low-income seniors.
  • This investment could assist almost 100,000 seniors and can be implemented in two stages.
  • First, the Ontario PCs will increase funding for dental services in Public Health Units, Community Health Centres, and Aboriginal Health Access Centres to help provide greater capacity for these services to assist low-income seniors with dental care.
  • Second, the government will invest in new dental services in underserviced areas, including increasing capacity in public health units and investing in mobile dental buses.
  • These investments will cost the government $98 million annually once fully implemented.
  • The low-income threshold for the Ontario Drug Benefit will be used. Therefore, a single senior with an income of $19,300 or less will qualify, or a couple with a combined income of $32,300 or less will qualify.

Building Long-Term Care Beds:

  • There is a crisis in our health care system: our hospitals are being pushed to the breaking point and patients are receiving care in hallways.
  • For the past 15 years, the Liberals have known Ontario’s seniors population would continue to grow but failed to take the appropriate steps to ensure the system would be prepared to care for them.
  • For example, there are currently more than 32,000 seniors on the waiting list for a long-term care bed in Ontario and, in 2041, the provincial senior population is expected to almost double to 4.6 million from the current 2.3 million.[3]
  • One of the main reasons for hospital overcrowding, and long waiting lists, is the large number of Alternative Level of Care (ALC) patients – those whose conditions should not necessitate hospital stays, but remain in hospital because there is not a more appropriate care setting or provider available.
  • We’ve seen similar issues with mental health in Ontario. As the Auditor General highlighted in 2016, emergency room usage for mental health reasons increased by 21% over the last five years, while Ontario’s population grew by only 4% during the same period.[4]
  • The Liberal’s legacy on health care can be defined by mismanagement, scandals, and cuts to front-line health care workers. There has been little planning to address long-term care and hospital capacity issues.

How We Will Fix It:

  • A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will cut hospital wait times and end hallway medicine.
  • We will do this by committing to build 15,000 long-term care beds in five years and 30,000 beds in ten years.
  • This plan will ensure that seniors and the elderly in Ontario get high-quality care in the most appropriate setting.
  • These policies, in combination with our $1.9 billion investment in mental health, addictions, and housing supports will cut hospital wait times in Ontario. Together, with the federal government’s contribution, we will invest $3.8 billion in mental health, addictions, and housing supports.

[1] https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Dental_OralHealth_Inequalities_Ontario_2012.pdf.

[2] https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/21/prescription-from-er-doctor-expand-public-dental-programs.html

[3] https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/demographics/projections/

[4] http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arreports/en16/v1_312en16.pdf