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September 14, 2004
For immediate release

Modification Results in More Sustainable Children's Dental Care Program While Protecting Universality of Access

Health and Social Services

A modification to the Children’s Dental Care Program will result in a more sustainable program without diminishing the program’s status as one of the most inclusive and extensive programs in Canada, Health and Social Services Minister Chester Gillan announced today.

“The program is still available to all Island children aged three to 16 years. The modification, which comes into effect on November 1, ensures that children in the most financially vulnerable families are still able to get the dental services they require. Balancing the fact that the program had to be modified to strengthen its sustainability with the need to ensure that this was not done at the expense of Island children has been quite a challenge,” the minister said. “Through a thorough review of the program, and after discussions with the Dental Association of PEI, I think that we have managed to modify the program to meet those two criteria.”

The preventive portion of the program remains the same – all preventive treatments are free of charge for all Island children at Dental Public Health clinics province wide.

The only modification is that in addition to the registration fee, families choosing to participate in the program will now be responsible for a payment directly to their dentist amounting to 20 per cent of the Children’s Dental Care Program rates for treatment services. As in the past, registered families will receive diagnostic services free of charge.

“During our discussions, it became evident that dentists were as committed as government to protecting the children in the most financially vulnerable families. With this in mind, dentists have agreed to provide an exemption to the 20 per cent on treatments for those who apply and provide proof to government of an annual net family income of less than $30,000,” the minister said.

Families with a combined net family income of less than $30,000 can apply for an exemption to the 20 per cent co-pay. For those who are exempt, the program remains the same as it is now: a $15 per child or $35 per family annual registration fee, no charge for diagnostic services including check-ups and x-rays, or for treatment services such as extractions and fillings.

Families may prefer not to enrol in the program if they have private health insurance; but their children will still be able to access the preventive services – cleaning, fluoride, and sealant treatments – free of charge regardless of the family’s income level.

Many children see a dentist for their annual checkup and have no other treatment needs. For a child who may require a minimum of treatment, the parent contribution would be less than $20 for each tooth that needs work. The average child needs less than one filling in a given year.

The Children’s Dental Health Program has been a success ever since its inception in 1971. At that time, decay rates across the province were high, while access to dentists was extremely limited. Very few dentists in public health served the entire province, so many families had to travel significant distances to access dental care. Currently there are more than 60 dentists in the province that families can access for dental care. Decay rates in Prince Edward Island are the lowest in the country, primarily because of the success of the ongoing preventive program offered in schools and public dental health clinics province wide.

An exemption application form and a brochure explaining the exemption and how to apply will be available soon. For more information, contact Dental Public Health at 368-4917 or toll free at 1-866-368-5460.

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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