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Conference Board of Canada Announcement:

On November 21, 2007, Roundtable member Dr. Carlos Quinonez of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry launched our “webinar” series with a poignant exploration of Canadian dental health care policy and the working poor.  Entitled, “Sorry doctor, I can't afford the root canal, I have a job,” the message was clear: a low-paying job can be a deterrent in the ability to access dental care.

Carlos’ presentation noted that access to health care is an important social determinant of health. For socially uninsured services such as dental care, access is strongly dependent on the ability to pay.  Most Canadians experience ease of access through employment-based insurance, while low- or no-income Canadians generally access care through government-based insurance. Yet the decision to publicly and privately finance dental care in this way has left one group at a distinct disadvantage: the working poor. 

Carlos’ presentation described the historical development of public dental care policy in Canada, and detailed the unique position of working poor populations within the scope of such policy. It also described recent findings from a nationally representative telephone interview survey of working poor Canadians regarding their dental care needs.

Within days of the broadcast, Ontario’s government was taking action.  Premier Dalton McGuinty announced an anti-poverty initiative on November 29, 2007 that includes a $45 million dental care plan for the working poor.  

Congratulations, Carlos.  Job well done!