Free basic dental for kids will improve health, family budgets
For immediate release | April 18, 2012
EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrat leader Brian Mason says covering basic dental care for children under 18 could make a real difference in the health of children across the province.
“I’m always saddened and disappointed when I hear about families that can’t afford to take their kids for regular dental checkups and cleanings. It’s a simple thing, but if you don’t have a good benefits plan, those costs can become a barrier. Yet in the long term, making sure all children have good dental health can save a lot of complications,” says Brian Mason, New Democrat leader. “That’s why we think it’s important that all kids get coverage for basic dental services. In prosperous Alberta, we can afford to give children the healthy start they deserve.
The fully costed New Democrat plan covers most services offered by dentists – cleaning, fillings, caps, and medically necessary dental and orthodontic procedures. The program is backed by an investment of $50 million for the first year to support children age zero to six. It would include ages six to 12 in the second year and 12 to 18 in the third. The New Democrat plan builds on the current services offered to some children through social assistance.
“This is a practical measure we could start tomorrow. It’s one way we can use Alberta’s prosperity to make everyday life better. It’s also one of the many things Albertans lose out on under a Conservative government that refuses to collect a fair share of royalties and taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Albertans,” says Mason. “A vote for New Democrats is a vote to give Albertans the quality public services they need. Alberta’s children deserve this, because Alberta belongs to them and their families.”
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Alberta New Democrats’ Child Dental Care Plan
- An Alberta New Democrat government led by Brian Mason would provide universal dental care for children below the age of 18. This would include a strong focus on preventative child dental care, including dental screenings in school and free appropriate care for those who are at high risk for oral health.
- Our plan will also include coverage for medically necessary orthodontics and dental surgery.
Costing the Child Dental Care Plan
- Costing of the Alberta New Democrats’ Child Dental Care Plan is based on a similar program in Ontario. Costs of the plan are expected to go up initially, decrease over time as Alberta children’s dental health improves.
- There is also an expected decrease in healthcare costs because of a decreased risk of oral-health complications and related health benefits.
Are there similar programs in Alberta already?
- The Alberta Child Benefit program gives dental care to children 4-17 years, but only to families under the low income cut off. It is not universal and does not support children under 4, the age group which is key to preventative dental.
- Dental coverage under the Alberta Child Benefit program includes dental exams, teeth cleaning, x-rays, and fillings and extractions, but does not include orthodontics and dental surgery.
- Alberta Health Services recently stopped the Child Oral Health Services Program, where they partnered with community agencies to screen identified high-risk children and then sent them on. This program provided preventive services, but this was for people under the age of 3.
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Media Relations Director