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The Catholic Women’s League of Canada BC & Yukon Provincial Council National theme: One Heart, One Voice, One Mission Provincial theme: Joyfully Serving the Lord

Health and Education

BC & Yukon Provincial Council


WHEREAS,  The citizens of British   Columbia with low income have a disproportionately high level of dental concerns, and

WHEREAS,  There are numerous health and social benefits from good oral health care, and

WHEREAS,  Government dental funding for low income citizens exists, yet this funding does not sufficiently enable access therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the members of the BC & Yukon Council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada urge the BC Government to provide fully subsidized basic dental care for low income citizens.

BC 2014.02  Brief: British Columbia Low-Income Dental Care

Low-income citizens need basic dental care. For the purpose of this resolution, basic dental care is defined as cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions and dentures, and the procedures needed to provide them.

The Canadian Health Measures Survey, released by Health Canada, confirms that poverty is significantly associated with poor oral health, untreated disease, fewer visits to a dentist, as well as avoiding and refusing subsequent visits and care due to cost. (Quinonez)  The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends that infants and toddlers visit the dentist within their first year in order to identify and address early signs of tooth decay, promote oral hygiene and lifelong health.  The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)'s recent investigation of hospital day surgeries, for children age one to five, report that early childhood cavities are the major cause,  costing $22 million per year in hospitalization costs alone. (CDA 2013)  The groups within the minority without adequate care include: seniors, low-income populations, people with special needs, children and Aboriginal peoples. (CDA, 2010)  Loss of work or school days due to dental problems and the related loss in education and income are significant, especially if the poor are unduly represented: 2 million school days and 4 million working days are lost annually. (CCPA)

Oral health is defined by the CDA as “a state of the oral (mouth) and related tissues and structures that contribute positively to physical, mental and social well-being and the enjoyment of life’s possibilities, by allowing the individual to speak, eat and socialize unhindered by pain, discomfort or embarrassment.”  Dental cavities are a preventable chronic disease.  All Canadians must have the right to good oral health. (CDA 2010) Currently, research is showing an increased incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia and Alzheimer's amongst those with poor oral health. If the government ignores oral health, it will pay a much higher price in the future. (CCPA) Dr. W. H. (Holly) Schwieger of the New Life Mission Clinic in Kamloops attests that people who have turned their lives around after years of drug addictions, may need dental work done before being able to fully re-integrate   into society.  Funding for dental clinics that cater to marginalized persons needs to be part of the access to service of dental insurance for low income citizens. (Wallace)

The continued discrepancy between government dental fees for services and the private practice dentistry’s fee guide has caused considerable limitation of public dental benefits. With dentists unwilling to treat patients at the rates provided by publicly funded programs, these policies have limited impact on improving access to care. (CDA 2010). Since 2007 there have been calls to remove barriers to dental care, to expand prescription and dental insurance to low income children and parents, seniors and special needs persons, and to address the disparity between the BC Government Dental Fee Guide and the BC Dentists’ fees.  (Wallace)  CDA recommends developing paths of access for the minority who do not have care: partnerships between dental professionals, other health professionals, federal and provincial governments, provincial and municipal dental public health programs and non-government community agencies.  CDA also recommends a collaborative approach to address equitable access to dental care, incorporating oral health care as an integral part of general health care. (CDA 2010)  Of the $12.6 billion spent on dental services in Canada in 2009, only 5% was publicly funded.  Governments can improve access to preventive and early treatment care for children and youth as well as building on programs for social assistance recipients, and adults who are ‘working poor’ with no ability to pursue dental treatment.  Improving public dental benefits may encourage more dentists to participate in the service.  For the health of the citizens of our province, we ask the BC government to provide fully subsidized basic dental care.

Works Cited

“Access to Oral Health Care for Canadians.” Canadian Dental Association.  May 2010. Web. 11 November 2013. http://www.cda-adc.ca/_files/position_statements/accessToCare.pdf

“CDA Position Statements” Canadian Dental Association. n.p. n.d. Web. 11November 2013


“Community Roots.” The Mastermind Studios Mastermind Studios 2013. Web. March 18, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i09Ko6K6MZs

“Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is: The Future of Dental Care in Canada.”Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)  April 2011.  Web. 11 November 2013.


Quinonez, Carlos R.  “Denticare, Denticaid and the Dental Insurance Industry” April 2011. Web. 11 November 2013 http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2011/04/Putting%20our%20money%20where%20our%20mouth%20is.pdf

Visit to Dentist within Baby's First Year Key to Preventing Childhood Caries.”Canadian Dental Association. N.p., May 4, 2004. Web. 11 Nov. 2013   http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/cda/media_room/news_releases/2013/101713.asp

Wallace, Bruce.  “Access to dental Care for Low-Income Residents of Campbell River and Comox Valley,” 2010. Web. 27 January 2014


Action Plan

Invite a speaker from Public Health or a low-income dental clinic in your community to address your council.

Celebrate Dental Month in April.

Write letters to:  Premier; Minister of Health; Minister of Family and Child Development; Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizen’s Services with copies to your local member of the legislature, urging the provincial government to provide fully subsidized basic dental care for low-income citizens.

Educate members of the ongoing research regarding the need for good oral health.

Monitor the government’s response to the request contained in the resolution.

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