Health and Community Services
April 17, 2006

The following statement was issued by the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Government Initiatives Making a Positive Impact on Oral Health

I am pleased today to recognize April as National Oral Health Month. Oral health is an important part of overall health. In recognition of this fact, our government has made significant progress over the past four years to improve access to dental services for residents of our province through a variety of measures.

In August 2006 we signed a new agreement with the Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association to give dentists in Newfoundland and Labrador fair compensation for eligible services.

As well, this past December we introduced a new Dental Bursary Program to support an increase in the number of dentists practising throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in rural areas. We invested $150,000 to implement the program this year and will invest $275,000 annually for the program. In exchange for each bursary received, recipients commit to one year of service in rural or in-need areas of the province.

We also now have the benefit of services being provided by a part-time oral surgeon as well as a new full-time oral surgeon. The arrival of the new full-time surgeon is the result of recruitment efforts of this government, in association with the Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association and Eastern Health.

I am also proud to say that we have developed what is arguably the best Children's Dental Health Program in Canada. A new agreement with the NLDA sets out an increased contribution by the Provincial Government for dental services received by all children under 12 and children aged 13 to 17 in families with low incomes. This agreement removed a financial burden for parents, benefiting approximately 74,000 children in the province.

We are also taking innovative approaches in ensuring children get timely access to dental services. In January of this year, a pilot clinic was initiated to aggressively address the wait list for pediatric dental surgery in Labrador. Pediatric dentist Dr. Geoff Smith led a surgical team to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to perform 38 oral surgeries over a four-day period. The project resulted in the treatment of 95 per cent of children in Labrador that were on the wait list. I extend my thanks to Dr. Smith and his team, as well as Labrador Grenfell Health, for their contributions to the success of this project. This new model of delivery has great potential for use in addressing other areas of need with respect to dental services.

These are just a few examples of the progressive actions we are taking to contribute to the health and well-being of our residents.

2008 04 17                                                            1:55 p.m.


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