The federal government is spending billions of dollars on a $1.3-billion pilot project to roll out oral health-equity programs in Canada’s provinces and territories.
The federal department said the pilot will cover the dental services of the elderly and the disabled, and would also help to address the inequities in access to dentistry.
The plan is part of the federal government’s drive to modernize its dental care system.
“We have seen in Canada and around the world that dental care has become a major issue in our country,” said Health Minister Rona Ambrose, during the announcement of the pilot program in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“The fact that it’s an issue in the United States, where we’ve had a decade of health care reform, and we’re seeing a tremendous shift in dental care in that country, it’s clear we have to make sure that we’re addressing that.”
Ambrose said the federal department has been working on the pilot project since May.
“We have a very active, robust pilot project in place right now and I’m confident that we’ll be able to take the steps that we need to take,” she said.
Ambrose said that the pilot is one of the first steps in a series of measures that will help the federal health-care system to improve access to oral health care.
The pilot is expected to cost the federal treasury $1,350 million over five years, according to a spokesperson for the department.
The pilot will be a two-year pilot program, which will run for two years and will include two phases.
Phase 1 will cover dental services for seniors and disabled people, Phase 2 will cover oral health services for people aged 55 and over, and Phase 3 will cover dentistry services for anyone aged 18 and older.
There will be no federal funding for dental care for people over 55.
Earlier this month, Ambrose announced that the federal minister of health, Justin Trudeau, would be launching a new pilot project this week to improve oral health in Canada.
Trudeau said the first phase of the plan would focus on improving oral health and dental care access for the elderly.
“Our government has been very clear that we have a responsibility to make dental care available to everyone in our society,” Trudeau said in a statement at the time.
Health Minister Rana Bokhari said the government will invest $1 million in a new dental clinic to help fill gaps in access for Canadians.
Bokhari said it’s important that all Canadians are protected from unnecessary and potentially life-threatening complications caused by untreated dental disease.
It’s not just about access to health care, but access to dental care and dental hygiene.
This pilot project will give Canadians the tools they need to make their communities healthier and safer.
The government will work with all stakeholders to ensure this pilot project is a success, she said in the statement.
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