TORONTO, ONTARIO — The union representing Toronto’s inside city workers expressed shock today at the Province’s plans to remove dental prevention services from the Ontario Public Health Standards and halt funding for the programs.
“Dental prevention services are part of the Ontario Public Health Standards for a reason,” said CUPE Local 79 President Tim Maguire. “It’s appalling that the Province would alter the standards to justify defunding the prevention services.”
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has indicated that Toronto’s public dental services are all waitlisted. A new study* out of St. Michael’s Hospital published on May 5, 2014, exposed the awful statistics on the state of children’s teeth, especially in Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods.
“Dental prevention services are a key tool in supporting oral health. We know that neglecting dental abscesses and infection can lead to other serious health problems, even blindness and heart disease,” Maguire said.
Maguire urged the City’s Board of Health to consult broadly on the impact on Ontario’s communities of the planned consolidation of provincial dental programs for children, and the impact of removing dental prevention services from the OPHS. “The vulnerable will be hardest hit by these decisions – children, seniors, aboriginals, and newcomers.”
CUPE Local 79 represents about 20,000 City of Toronto employees working in all City divisions, including public health, city inspectors, homeless hostels, transportation, childcare centres, employment and social services, recreation programs, and long term care homes.
* Denise Darmawikarta et al. “Factors Associated With Dental Care Utilization in Early Childhood”, Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/133/6/e1594
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