“It was a huge relief.”
The Provincial Dental Care Program is making a difference
Sally Ross was overdue for a new set of partial plates. After more than twenty years, her old ones had become so worn down they were affecting her bite. She would have replaced them sooner, but partial plates aren’t cheap.
“I was looking at a bill of more than $3,000,” she said on the phone from her home in Clyde River. “I’m on a fixed income. I can’t afford that. I was going to put it on a payment plan, but even coming up with the thousand dollars to start the work would have been a struggle. I have car insurance to pay, taxes coming up, and an oil tank to keep filled.”
Shannon MacLean is not surprised by Sally’s story. She’s a dental assistant with Health PEI.
“Most individual Islanders don’t have dental insurance,” she said. “Until last year, many low-income Islanders with a problem tooth had little option other than removal, even if it could be saved with a simple filling. And there can be a real stigma to missing a tooth.”
Sally heard about the Provincial Dental Care Program on the radio and realized she met the criteria.
“It was a huge relief,” she said. “I can’t even explain how huge it was. The price of everything is going up.”
The Dental Care Plan, announced in 2021, allows low-income Islanders, including seniors, to receive subsidized basic dental services. It covers annual and emergency dental exams, dental fillings and extractions, limited preventive dental services, and dentures. More than 16,000 Islanders accessed the program in its first year.
“When the program was first announced, we were absolutely flooded with responses,” said MacLean. “When the mail was delivered every day, it was being delivered in big, grey plastic totes filled with applications. We’ve been hearing from people who haven’t been to the dentist in more than 20 years who can now go because of this program.”
Program eligibility is based on income, so participants must have filed their taxes in the previous year.
As the program is accessing information from the Canada Revenue Agency, the forms must be filled out in ink and either mailed or dropped off at a 152 St. Peters Road in Charlottetown or 205 Linden Avenue in Summerside. Staff at these locations can also help you apply in person.
“It feels really good knowing this program is making a difference,” said MacLean. “Staff here really will go the extra mile to make sure people get the coverage they’re entitled to.”
The new partial plates have made a big difference for Sally Ross. She has a well-fitted pair of plates, and she doesn’t fear the denturist’s bill.
“The price of everything has gone up,” she said. “Having this taken care of just takes away a bit of that worry.”
For more information about the Provincial Dental Care Program, and to find out if you qualify, visit the Dental Health Services web page.