Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Election is Officially Underway with Teeth at the Forefront Today

Well, I don't know if it's official official, but the Liberals have been campaigning since they prematurely dissolved the Legislature and the Tories started their ads a few days ago and the NDP have been steadily rolling out their promises and the union-funded and apparent Liberal front Working Families Coalition, trying to piggyback on the long-established Family Coalition Party, is running their ads, so as far as I'm concerned the Election is definitely underway. Even a Sask blogger has noticed.

So let's talk turkey, or more specifically teeth. I land in that category of no dental coverage. It's a pretty big category. It includes those on welfare who are covered only for emergency care, kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Great way to try and get work too, having to sport rotten teeth. It includes the working poor, the trendy victim du jour for the politicians. Make me gag. Anyway, the working poor really do suffer. They don't even have emergency care and have such a low income that preventative dental care is probably at the bottom of their priority list after food, shelter, transportation, school fees, clothing (especially underwear), and medicines, which they also have to pay out-of-pocket. Great way to try and climb the income ladder, having such rotten teeth it can make you blind. It includes the self-employed, especially those who have had even the mildest illness and therefore cannot get private health insurance. For some obscure reason, if you've been ill or have a mild chronic illness that doesn't relate to teeth at all, dental care gets chucked out of the list of benefits you're entitled to. That might have changed since I tried applying for private health insurance but knowing insurance companies I doubt it. If you're a university alum, you might be able to join one of those affinity group plans and squeak under the radar that way and get your dental care covered. In any case, even when not covered, the self-employed, in order to get and keep clients, must have decent teeth and probably sacrifice something else in order to pay those dental bills.

So in the The Toronto Star today, the Liberals trumpeted their solution to this gaping problem (TheStar.com - Ontario Election - Dental plan could aid 500,000).

As usual, the announcing political party can't be bothered to update its website at the same time as it releases the news to the media. So I have to rely on the Star's reporting. One thing's clear from the Star's report: the Liberals are into "a step in the right direction" while the NDP party is into solving the problem.

Liberals: $45 million per year to cover approximately 500,000 Ontario working poor for preventative care such as cleanings and fluoride treatments by dental hygienists and fillings and extractions by dentists. Those on welfare will continue to receive coverage for emergency treatment only. And the self-employed receive nada. No timing details yet. Rather a piss-poor first step if you ask me. And besides, as we know from the last election, hardly likely to be carried out anyway.

NDP: $100 million per year over 4 years to cover children and other Ontarians without dental coverage for preventative care such as checkups, fillings,  and extractions and for emergency care by Community Dental Health Teams, in other words not your own dentist if you did have one. The NHS in England has a similar idea where those without dental care go to a NHS dentist. The problem with doing it this way is that the dentists are often bad. I knew one person whose teeth rotted so much under the supposed care of an NHS dentist that a richer relative took pity on him and paid for a private dentist to fix his teeth. Reading the NDP website, rather than the Star's report, gives a slightly different view of the NDP promise. The NDP's glibly worded annoucement talks about Working Families (make me gag again), but what the heck are those? Only people with children, so if you're an adult sans child, tough shit? Only the working poor, so if you're self-employed, too bad? A bit vague if you ask me. But at least it's better than the Liberals as it seems to cover more people and more fully too.

Conservatives: Nada.

How dire is the dental coverage situation in Ontario? Well, we're dead last in the country, and the country is second-last out of all the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. I wonder who's last in the OECD?

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