STAFF REPORTER, TORONTO: It is estimated that two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance. Now, as part of its comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, Ontario 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.
“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 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.”
Each year, 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 cannot afford it, impacting their overall well-being. It is estimated that 100,000 low-income seniors will benefit annually from this program once fully implemented.
The Premier along with Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, made the announcement today at Rexdale Community Health Centre to launch the new user-friendly web portal (ontario.ca/SeniorsDental) seniors can use to apply to the program. Eligible seniors can apply to the program online as of today, or by picking up an application form at a local public health unit.
“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 Minister Elliott. “Ontario is building a connected system of care that supports all Ontarians throughout their health care journey.”
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.
“The well-being of all Ontario’s seniors is a top priority for this government,” said Minister Cho. “This new dental care program will help eligible seniors receive the quality dental care they deserve. By keeping seniors healthy, we can also help seniors avoid emergency visits to the hospital, prevent chronic diseases, and increase quality of life for seniors across the province.” The new dental care program will be available through public health units, including some mobile dental clinics, as well as participating Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs).