By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The region is continuing to investigate the relocation of its oral health clinic, specifically looking at a spot in Oshawa.
Currently located at 1615 Dundas St. E. in Whitby, committee of the whole has recommended staff investigate moving the clinic to the Midtown Centre, located at 200 John St. W. in Oshawa.
The committee is also recommending a consultant be brought in report on the logistics of the possible move.
The consultant will be paid through the province’s Seniors Dental Care Program.
The estimated cost of moving the clinic is $2.3 million, and the committee has recommended it be included in the health department budget.
The province previously gave the region $1.6 million to help Durham provide free dental care to 4,000 new seniors 65 years and older.
At the time, the region’s director of oral health Pat Abbey said 25 per cent of Durham seniors haven’t visited a dentist in five years.
She added 96 per cent of those seniors also have dental decay, with two-thirds also having no health insurance.
Seniors looking to qualify for free dental care must have an income of $19,300 or less if they’re single, or a combined $32,300 or less for a couple.
Oshawa’s Ward 5 councillor Brian Nicholson was impressed with the new program.
“I don’t often say good things about the provincial government, but this is a step in the right direction,” he said.
But he wondered if the region itself is in a position to expand the program to include those who are slightly above the required income levels.
Dr. Robert Kyle, the region’s commissioner of health, explained staff would have to come back with an analysis before he could provide an answer.
He also noted staff’s top priority will be getting adequate facilities to not only help children, but seniors as well.
Local MPPs were also recently at regional headquarters to announce it will be investing $90 million annually into the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.
This will provide free routine dental care for low-income seniors who are eligible for the program.
“Proper dental care for some of our most vulnerable citizens is essential to their overall quality of health and wellbeing. I am pleased that the government has taken such a positive approach to this fundamental need,” said Whitby MPP Lorne Coe in a press release.
Eligible seniors can apply online at ontario.ca/SeniorsDental or by going to the local public health unit and picking up an application.