B.C. government doubling grant funding to provide low-cost dental care to more people

Shane Simpson

TWENTY-FOUR not-for-profit dental clinics around the province will have their annual operating support from the British Columbia government doubled, helping them provide a mix of free and low-cost dental care to people living in poverty.

The $3.6 million in funding over three years, which includes $2 million to upgrade dental equipment in the clinics, comes just days after the Province launched TogetherBC, B.C.’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy.

“Too often, people living in poverty cannot afford to take proper care of their teeth because they have to put the basics like food and shelter first,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

“Access to quality, affordable dental health and hygiene care should be available to more people, and that’s why we’re making it a part of this government’s efforts to reduce poverty throughout B.C. This investment in community-based dental services will support not-for-profit dental providers across the province and benefit thousands of low-income families, children and seniors over the next three years.”

The one-time $3.6-million grant to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) will help B.C.’s 24 not-for-profit clinics provide more services to some of the province’s most vulnerable people, including:

* an annual grant of $20,000 for each clinic over the next three years to help offset the costs of materials and dental lab fees required to provide services to financially vulnerable people. The increase doubles the amount the clinics received in 2017.

* approximately $2 million over three years to support capital needs such as equipment like X-ray machines, dental chairs, pediatric equipment and computer software for the electronic submission of dental forms.

“Oral health is an important component of our overall health,” said Raymon Grewal, President, BCDA. “This funding will play a critical role in enhancing the access to dental care for financially vulnerable British Columbians, improving their quality of life and employment opportunities while also reducing the cost to the public health-care system by helping these patients remain free of oral pain and infection. The BCDA welcomes this partnership with the provincial government and looks forward to supporting its poverty reduction plan.”

Increasing access to dental care for people in need is part of TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy. TogetherBC reflects government’s commitment to reduce poverty and make life more affordable for British Columbians.

Guided by extensive engagement undertaken with thousands of British Columbians, TogetherBC represents a starting point for delivering on the targets introduced in the 2018 Poverty Reduction Strategy Act: a 25% reduction in B.C.’s overall poverty rate and a 50% reduction in the child poverty rate by 2024.


Quick Facts

* Not-for-profit dental clinics in B.C. provide dental treatment for free or at reduced rates to low-income families.

* Last year, B.C.’s not-for-profit dental clinics provided safe, affordable, quality dental-care services during approximately 54,000 patient visits.

* In addition to the non-profit clinics, through the Healthy Kids Program, children of low-income families can get help with the costs of basic dental care, prescription eyewear, hearing instruments and alternative hearing assistance.

* In 2017, the Province increased funding by $6 million annually for the BC Healthy Kids Program, bringing the current investment in the program to almost $30 million a year.