Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford has promised that should his party gain control of the Ontario government, it would invest close to $100 million every year on dental care for low-income seniors.
“Many Ontarians have dental insurance, but two thirds of low-income seniors cannot afford it,” Ford told reporters in Toronto on Saturday, according to CBC News. “They end up in the ER due to unbearable dental pain. More suffering for seniors and more strain on our health care system.”
A release from the party laid out two phases for the plan. The first involves putting money into “Public Health Units, Community Health Centres, and Aboriginal Health Access Centres.” Second, a provincial government run by the PC party would increase dental-care funding in under-serviced areas and deploy more mobile dental buses into remote communities.
Ford said the plan, which has a yearly price tag of $98 million, could benefit up to 100,000 seniors every year. The program would apply the same income test as the Ontario Drug Benefit, meaning it would apply to single seniors who earn $19,300 or less yearly, or senior couples with a combined income of $32,300 or less.
“I want our seniors to know that relief is on the way. Help is on the way,” he said. “Our seniors built this province, they took care of us, they raised us. It's time we do more to take care of them.”
He also reiterated a previous PC pledge to establish 15,000 more long-term care beds over five years.
Meanwhile, the NDP has promised to invest $670 million on public dental coverage to all seniors as part of a proposed $1.2-billion proposal to cover all Ontarians. The Liberals’ proposed Ontario Drug and Dental Plan, which was laid out in the budget for 2018, seniors without coverage could get reimbursed on dental expenses reaching up to $400 for an individual or $600 for a couple.
The budget wasn’t clear on whether the program would also include those on social assistance or receiving disability benefits.
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