The Ontario government is providing $25 million to expand access to the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. The funding will be used to support 78 infrastructure projects across the province, including building new dental clinics and renovating existing facilities.
The province also is adding eight new mobile dental clinics that will bring services directly to clients, making it easier for vulnerable seniors to access the dental care they need. These projects are expected to be completed by March 31, 2021.
“Our government made a promise to Ontario’s low-income seniors that we would provide them with free, routine dental care, and we are keeping that promise,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“As part of the next phase of the program, we are enhancing our commitment, which includes more mobile dental clinics. We are bringing critical dental care right to the doorstep of our seniors and allowing for better treatment in underserviced areas,” Ford said.
The additional funding will be used to build new dental clinics and upgrade and expand existing clinics at public health units, participating community health centers, and Aboriginal Health Access Centres, including:
- 50 projects will receive $11.6 million to support existing clinics with upgrades and expansions.
- 28 projects will receive $13.3 million to build new clinics that will help provide dental services in underserviced areas, which includes eight new mobile dental clinics.
“Our government is investing in dental infrastructure projects across Ontario to ensure low-income seniors will have better and faster access to the services they need, no matter where they live,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health.
“The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program is a key part of our plan to end hallway healthcare by providing seniors with access to quality dental care and keeping them out of hospitals,” Elliott said.
The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program will reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital and help to eliminate hallway healthcare, or treating patients in the hallways of hospitals when no rooms are available, prevent chronic disease, and improve the quality of life and overall well-being for eligible seniors, the government said.
“Our government is committed to making sure our seniors stay safe and healthy,” said Raymond Cho, minister for seniors and accessibility.
“Expanding the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and offering mobile services will make it easier for those who have difficulty getting out of their home, or for those living in rural or remote parts of the province, to access the care they need,” Cho said.
The program provides free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province who do not have dental benefits. Ontarians age 65 and older with an income of $19,300 or less or couples with a combined annual income of $32,300 or less qualify.
Once fully implemented, the government said, the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program will serve approximately 100,000 low-income seniors annually. Two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance, the government added.
Eligible seniors can apply to the program online or by picking up an application form at a local public health unit.