As part of its comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, Ontario is investing in programs that keep seniors healthy in their communities longer.
Last week, Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano echoed how communities like Sault Ste. Marie stand to benefit from this investment. Each year in Ontario, preventable dental issues like gum disease, infections and chronic pain lead to more than 60,000 emergency department visits by patients, of which a significant portion are seniors.
Many low-income seniors face challenges accessing regular dental care because they can't afford it, impacting their overall well-being.
The Ontario government is investing approximately $90 million annually for the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP), which will provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province.
In doing so, the government expects to reduce the number of dental-related emergency department visits, helping to end hallway health care.
“Providing dental care for low income seniors helps alleviate the concerns of seniors and their families around not being able to access essential healthcare services in their community,” said Romano.
“In Sault Ste. Marie, organizations like Algoma Public Health will be able to ensure our seniors receive the care they need and deserve, all while reducing hospital wait times. This is yet another way how our government is protecting what matters most for the people of Ontario.”
Eligible seniors can apply to the program online (ontario.ca/SeniorsDental), or by picking up an application form at a local public health unit.
“With this program, we are making sure Ontario’s low-income seniors can age with dignity and enjoy the quality of life they deserve,” said Ontario premier Doug Ford. “This is another concrete way our government is delivering on our commitment to end hallway health care and cut hospital wait times.”
Ontarians aged 65 and over with an income of $19,300 or less, or couples with a combined annual income of $32,300 or less, who do not have dental benefits, will qualify for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.
“By providing seniors with access to quality dental care and keeping them out of hospitals, this new program is a key part of our plan to end hallway health care,” said health minister Christine Elliott.
It is estimated that 100,000 low-income seniors will benefit annually from this program once fully implemented. Two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance.
“Algoma’s population is aging, with a greater proportion of seniors aged 65 years and older than the rest of Ontario. From a public health perspective, this program will improve the health and quality of life and will reduce health inequities among low-income seniors in our region,” said Dr. Marlene Spruyt, Medical Officer of Health for Algoma Public Health.
“We estimate that the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program will support 2,200 seniors in the Algoma District.”