Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

October 17, 2007 16:27 ET

The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association Finds Gaps in Speech From the Throne

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 17, 2007) - The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) applauds the Prime Minister's announcement regarding the provincial and territorial agreement on patient wait times. This agreement is supported by the feral government's former announcement of a national paediatric pilot project to address wait times for children in need of surgery. This is an important project addressing painful childhood dental decay. In some areas dental surgery is the number one reason for children's surgery in hospital settings. In addition, in some northern communities almost 50% of the children are flown to southern hospitals for dental surgery.

We now realize that good oral health is crucial to maintaining general health, since recent research indicates a link between periodontal disease and diabetes, premature low birth weight babies, heart disease, and respiratory disease. This research supports a strong financial commitment from the Canadian government, a commitment that guarantees that children will be free from oral disease, not just a commitment to providing surgery once they are in pain from dental decay. However, Canada has the second lowest per capita public oral health expenditures of all OECD countries. CDHA calls upon the federal government to commit 36% of total oral health spending ($2,972 million) for categorical national oral health promotion and disease prevention programs for low-income Canadians, including those receiving social assistance and those working, children, persons with disabilities, and seniors. This investment in oral health will reduce the need for costly hospital oral surgery.

The dental hygiene profession is celebrating a recent growth in independence and professionalism. Ontario and Alberta join British Columbia dental hygienists in passing new legislation that enables the establishment of private dental hygiene practices. As a result, dental hygienists can now join general health care professionals in community health centres and long-term care facilities. This is a step forward in meeting public demands for increased interprofessional collaboration. This new legislation will also prompt the establishment of mobile dental hygiene services for rural, remote and homebound individuals. With relatively portable instruments dental hygienists can now fill a gap for services in these areas.

In order for these new businesses to flourish, CDHA calls on the federal government to add dental hygienists to the roster of service providers for the First Nations Inuit Health Branch, Non-Insured Health Benefits Program and the Veterans Affairs Canada dental program. Presently these dental benefits programs will only allow clients to receive services from dental hygienists who are employed by a dentist. In a letter to the Deputy Minister of Health, the Competition Bureau of Canada supports the designation of dental hygienists as service providers. Without provider status dental hygienists are impeded in their ability to compete for services and this may limit services to clients in rural and remote areas. The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association looks forward to working collaboratively with the federal government on these important oral health issues.

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