May 22, 2024

Cool Rabbits

Healthcare Enthusiast

Trudeau promised seniors dental care, now he’s failing to deliver

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Most dentists are so far refusing to sign up for Trudeau’s program saying it’s too bureaucratic, not focused on patients.

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Imagine setting up a dental program to provide care for Canadian seniors, but there aren’t any, or at least many dentists, in the program. That’s what the Trudeau government has done with their latest big promise to Canadians: Design a program that well over 1 million seniors have signed up for, but that dentists are avoiding like the plague.

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The government continues to promote the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) as offering real care. Marci Ien, minister for women and gender equality and youth, sent out a mailing to her constituents telling them that as of this week, seniors aged 65-69 could sign up.

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“Access to oral health care should not be dependent on Canadians’ ability to pay,” said the Toronto Centre MP.

If she believed that, wouldn’t she try, alongside her other cabinet and caucus colleagues, to ensure there was a functional program in place?

“I was so excited about the program: All the seniors in my situation were excited to have this fantastic offer from the government,” Teresa Hains told The Toronto Sun in an interview last week.

The 76 year-old retired teacher in Toronto signed up for the program as soon as she was eligible, and then was shocked to find out about a lack of participation by dentists. Her own dentist of many years has not enrolled, and calls to 10 other dental offices near her home showed none of them had signed onto the program.

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Eventually, Teresa found one dentist who had signed on, but their office wasn’t accepting new patients.

“It was kind of like a horse, and closing barn doors afterwards, you know,” said Teresa about the lack of participation from dentists.

“That would have been a very important step, someone should have caught that.”

The government would have caught this problem if they had been listening to their partners. The Canadian Dental Association has long advocated for an expansion of coverage to vulnerable Canadians, but they have also been pointing out problems with the program design to the government for months to no avail.

The CDA recently surveyed 4,000 member dentists, and 61% of them said they would not participate in the program as it is now constituted.

“The CDCP is not consistent with other dental care plans. It’s a complex government program. It involves more complex authorization processes that we believe will disrupt patient care,” Dr. Aaron Burry, a dentist of 37 years and CEO of the CDA explained to the Commons Finance Committee two weeks ago.

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Burry stressed the desire of the CDA to see this program succeed but called for changes if dentists are going to participate.

They want patients to have the ability to choose their own dentist, that the approvals process for needed care be streamlined and that dentists be fully compensated for their services, none of which the current program does. They are also concerned that many seniors believe they will be getting completely free dental care, when that is not how the program is currently structured.

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There are existing programs, both private and public ones, run by provincial governments across the country. They all effectively run the same way: The patient visits their dentist, the dentist provides the services needed, and the insurance plan – private or public – pays the dentist.

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The Trudeau government of course has designed a program that added layers of bureaucracy, and unnecessary approvals for services by bureaucrats in Ottawa.

There are simple solutions to fix this program, but that would require listening to the experts in public dental plans – the dentists who provide the services and the provinces who run existing plans. The Liberals seem unwilling to acknowledge that they may have made a mess of this, and are so far soldiering on.

This program should be up and running but once again, the Trudeau Liberals are showing that they are good with announcements but unable to deliver — and seniors are the ones being hurt.

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