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  • Gurher Sidhu

Which of Canada’s federal parties care about your smile? Read this before you vote.

It’s no secret that dental care is healthcare.


Poor oral health contributes to heart disease, complications in pregnancy, and even pneumonia. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: factoring in the social and economic consequences of not having a healthy smile, it becomes clear that teeth are much more than cosmetic accessories.


Yet, for a country which is so proud of its healthcare system—its universal healthcare system, supposedly— there is currently no universal dental care system in Canada. Here, dental care is an individual responsibility. It is an individual responsibility, no matter if you’ve been pulsing in pain for the past two weeks from a cavity which could have been avoided with regular visits to the dentist—something which is out of reach for 22.4% of Canadians— and now you have delayed having it treated, due to dental visits being a financial burden. Too bad, so sad.


All this being said, the federal election is on Monday, September 20th 2021. Will things change?


A quick Ctrl + F search through all of the main party platforms (Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic Party(NDP), Bloc Québécois, Green, People's Party of Canada (PPC))—for universal dental care-related terms such as ‘dental care’, ‘oral health’, ‘dentist’, ‘teeth’—should help us see if Canadians can expect to see an expanded access to dental care after the election.


Overall, the Liberals seem to only be paying lip service to making dental care more accessible, the NDP and Green are actively promising it, and the Conservatives, Bloc Québécois, and sure, PPC— they’re not even pretending to care.


But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at quotes from each of the party platforms:


LIBERAL

  • “Expand the list of professionals eligible for [Canada Student Loans] forgiveness to include dentists, pharmacists, dental hygienists, midwives, social workers, psychologists, teachers, and early childhood educators so that rural communities have greater access to the full suite of health and social service providers they need.”

  • “ Offer health care professionals, who are just starting out in their careers, a one-time income tax deduction of up to $15,000 over their first 3 years of practice to help with the costs of setting up a practice.”

  • “Work to give rural communities greater access to a full suite of health and social services professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, dental hygienists, midwives, social workers, psychologists, teachers, and early childhood educators.”

Justin Trudeau Representing the Liberal Party in a Toronto March


CONSERVATIVE

  • “Giving Canada’s competition laws real teeth.”

  • Believe it or not, that’s the only dental-related terminology in the entire Conservative platform!


NDP

  • “Right now, without access to benefits like extended health coverage and dental care, temporary workers earn roughly 75 percent of what permanent employees do – a divide that hits the most vulnerable and precarious workers hardest, and gives employers an incentive to limit the number of full-time positions they offer. We don’t think that’s right, and we will put in place rules to require that part-time and contract workers be compensated equally to full-time workers.”

  • “One in three Canadians has no dental insurance – and almost seven million people don’t visit the dentist every year because they can’t afford to. Too many people are forced to go without the care they need, until the pain is so severe that they are forced to seek relief in hospital emergency rooms. We know now that good oral health is a critical component of overall good health and that means our healthcare system should cover it, too. A New Democrat government will work together with provincial partners, health professionals and dentists to develop a roadmap to incorporate universal dental care into Canada’s public health care system, and immediately deliver dental care coverage for people who don’t have any private insurance”

  • “Canadians living with disabilities shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of prescription medication, dental work, how to find housing, or how to get their mail. In addition to putting in place a universal, publicly funded national...dental care program that will offer full benefits to all Canadians…”

  • “...Our dental care plan will mean that uninsured seniors can go to the dentist when they need to, without facing costly bills.”


Jagmeet Singh Marching With The NDP at Toronto in 2019


BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS

  • “Le Bloc Québécois donnera des dents et un pouvoir punitif au commissariat aux conflits d’intérêts et à l’éthique”

  • Translation: “The Bloc Québécois will give *teeth* and a punitive power to the Ethics Commissioner.”

  • It’s very much a Conservative-type situation here—no dental plan in sight!


GREEN

  • “Expand Medicare to include free dental care for low-income Canadians”

  • “Work to develop a universal dental care programme in Canada, so that every person has access to high-quality basic dental care, regardless of their insurance status.”

  • “Expand the single-payer Medicare model to include free basic dental care for all Canadians”


PPC

  • No teeth-related words here.



Universal dental care is crucial in making the Canadian healthcare system something to be truly proud of. It would cover, at the very least, preventative dental care. Your vote can make a difference.


Unfortunately, the most vulnerable Canadians do not have access to even the basic aspects of oral hygiene—things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, which we so often take for granted.


Here at TorontoTooth, we aim to fill that gap by providing basic oral hygiene supplies to homeless youth shelters in Toronto. A donation of just $10 will allow us to provide a dental hygiene kit to 4 underprivileged youth, helping to increase their health and confidence. Click here if you would like to learn more.





#TorontoTooth