April 11, 2023 at 3:10 pm
The federal government and an opposition party pushed for an extension to the budget dental care scheme across Windsor-Essex on Tuesday.
Windsor-Tecumseh Councilor Irek Kusmierczyk was at the Windsor-Essex County Health Department on Tuesday with local United Way representatives and Windsor pediatrician Dr. Sharon Burey, Senator. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens on Tuesday before visiting St. Clair College Windsor’s main campus District dental programs.
The dental program included in the 2023 federal budget will expand eligibility to uninsured Canadians under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities earning less than $90,000 a year.
Kusmierczyk told the report after meeting with health officials that he wanted to see how the situation was on the ground so he could meet with the federal health minister and provincial health representatives.
“One of the challenges we see in this community is access,” Kusmierczyk said. “You can create a great dental insurance plan and still have barriers, whether it’s transportation or language.”
The program started in October and focuses on children up to the age of 12. The scheme outlined in the budget will be expanded later this year to include seniors, anyone under 18 and people with disabilities. By 2025, any Canadian without dental insurance will be able to access medical services.
The dental program was brought into the Liberals’ budget, backed by the federal NDP, which has been pushing for an expansion of oral care.
Speaking to reporters after touring St. Clair’s dental program, Singh said he’s spoken to people who are in dire need of relief because they often have to choose between getting the dental treatment they need and getting food.
“I met an elderly couple who were both on a fixed income and they both needed dental care and as they said the root canals cost over $1,100 each but they couldn’t put them off because of the pain they were in, said Singer. “For that family, they’re going to save $2,200, so it’s a real way of saving people money.”
Expanding dental care has been one of the NDP’s goals for years, Singer added.
Another 9 million Canadians will have easier access to the dentist once the dust settles, the federal government says.
— using files from Maureen Revait