Canada's NDP

NDP

September 18th, 2020

Harris & Dinn write Premier Furey regarding children's dental health

Jack Harris, M.P. St. John's East and James Dinn, M.H.A. St. John's Centre sent a joint letter to Premier Furey asking for consideration for children who turned 13 during the COVID-19 lockdown to be covered. MHA Dinn also tabled the letter in the House of Assembly.

September 15, 2020

Dr. Andrew Furey, Premier

Confederation Building

P.O. Box 8700

St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6

Dear Premier Furey:

I write today, together with my provincial colleague, Mr. James Dinn, M.H.A, concerning dental care coverage of children in the province. As you may know our party has been promoting the adoption of a national dental care program for uninsured families making less than $90,000, to help those who do not have access to a dental insurance plan. Indeed, we moved and held a full day debate on a voteable Opposition Day Motion in the House of Commons in February to give effect to such a plan, which was unfortunately defeated.

Our communication with constituents has shown dental coverage as a significant need, and to be in great demand for many Newfoundland and Labrador families.

One issue recently brought to our attention was the fact that individual children who are beneficiaries of the Children’s Dental Health Program aged out as beneficiaries of these subsidized dental services during the lock down mandated by government. Children who turned 13 years of age between mid-March when dental offices closed.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented these children from receiving dental care that they need.

This letter is to urge you and your government to extend the eligibility for this program for a period to permit them to obtain services that would otherwise be missed.

We appreciate your urgent consideration of this matter

Sincerely,

Jack Harris, Q.C., M.P., St. John’s East

James Dinn, MHA, St. John’s Centre

House of Assembly Hansard, Thursday, September 17

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for St. John's Centre.

MR. J. DINN: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I just want to make a few brief comments with regards to the Interim Supply and budget. I guess if nothing else it's about setting priorities as to where we're going to spend our money and how we're going to allocate it.

Often we get asked the question, well, where are you going to come up with the money. And certainly the Third Party has often said it's not a matter of coming up with the money, it's about how we choose to – what are our priorities and where do we allocate it.

One thing that's become abundantly clear, and I think we all recognize, is certainly with dental care. Any of us who have worked in any unionized area or any company that has a dental plan, you know that part of that insurance plan is about dental care. It's probably one of the most expensive yet one of the most necessary health insurances to have.

We also know that not everyone is fortunate to have that, and it has a significant impact on not only on their dental health but their physical health, their own self esteem, their own ability to go out and get a job and so on and so forth. It has repercussions throughout.

It's certainly an issue, it's certainly that the national party, NDP, has advocated for the adoption of a national dental care program for uninsured families who are making less than $90,000 and do not have access to dental insurance. But it became very clear when I was campaigning as well, and even since, how seriously the deficit in dental health is.

And one issue has come up to my attention recently and has come to the attention of Jack Harris, who's the Member of Parliament for St. John's East. And I'll read from his letter, Madam Chair: One issue recently brought to our attention was the fact that individual children who are beneficiaries of the children's dental health program have aged out as beneficiaries of the subsidized dental services during the lockdown mandated by government after mid-March when dental offices closed.

So there is a concern that has been brought to our attention that those children who aged out during that time may not be covered. That they've lost that time when they could have dental appointments or services provided. But as a result of that they since that time, now that dental services have been reinstated, they're unable to avail of those appointments that they would've been able to take care of during that period.

As I said, in effect COVID-19, Mr. Harris goes on to say, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented these children from receiving dental care that they need and this letter that he writes is to urge, to the Premier, and the government, to extend the eligibility of this program for a period of time to permit them to obtain the services they would otherwise that would have been missed.

In terms of priorities this is very much and certainly as we debate this I'm hoping that, as I understand it, no decision has been made on this as to whether it will be extended. I'm hoping that government will see this as a priority to make sure that those children who aged out during the pandemic will have an extension of that time so that they can have their dental needs taken care of.

As a said, it's the key to not only dental health but also other health issues and also to a person's self esteem. I have the letter here to table if you wish.

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.