A dental care program for seniors and low-income Islanders has been established in Prince Edward Island. This program has largely come about thanks to pressure and advocacy from the P.E.I. Green Party which forms the province’s official opposition.

Peter Bevan baker
The leader of the P.E.I. Green Party, Peter Bevan-Baker is a dentist by trade and advocated for this program.

The rollout

Despite it’s late delivery which was supposed to be finalized by July 1st of this year, the Green Party of P.E.I. is happy nonetheless with the implementation of this new program. In 2020, the Green caucus asked the P.E.I. government to reserve 2.5 million dollars for a provincial dental care program in their budget and Dennis King’s provincial government said it would oblige to that request.

It took some pressure to have the program delivered. Through various statements, leader Peter Bevan-Baker and the party were getting anxious as no details were released. This was especially evident in the month of July once the original July 1st promised deadline had passed. An article by CBC in mid-July saw the P.E.I. Greens report that 30% of Islanders did not have dental insurance.

When the announcement finally came in late July of the program’s start, it was seen as a victory for those who patiently waited:

The Green Party of P.E.I. reacting on twitter following the announcement of the new dental care program.

How does it work

The basics of this new program allow for low income Islanders and their dependents to have dental care coverage. Covered services include dental extraction, dental fillings, some preventable services and removable dentures. Annual exams and cleanings can be accessed once a year while other services will be administered as needed with various limitations.

P.E.I. residents and their dependents who have an active provincial health card and are receiving social assistance or assured income, as well as those who’s family meets the financial threshold qualify for the program. Treatment can be received at private and public clinics in the province.

More details about who can qualify, how to apply and the financial thresholds to be met can be found on the on the Green caucus of P.E.I.’s website.

Peter Bevan-Baker’s comments

Global Green News reached out to Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the P.E.I. Green Party and of the official opposition to learn what he had to say about the dental care program. As a long time dentist, Bevan-Baker was a strong advocate for access to proper dental care.

When asked about the priority of this issue, Bevan-Baker referred to it as being a platform issue:

Dental care was a commitment made by the Green Party of PEI in the last election. I am very pleased to see this roll out.

Peter Bevan-Baker to Global Green News

Global Green News also asked about what this program means for the rest of Canada and if it can serve as a possible precedent. The opposition leader acknowledged that this is a possibility but also mentioned that P.E.I.’s small size allows for efficient implementation:

The size of our province creates unique opportunities to design and roll out critical social programs. The work can be done quickly and it can adjust faster than in larger jurisdictions. We have the ability to be leaders in so many areas.

Peter Bevan-Baker to Global Green News

Lastly, Global Green News inquired about similar policy objectives that the P.E.I. Greens may have. Bevan-Baker mentioned a motion passed in the House to expand vision care to social assistance clients. Bevan-Baker has also been pressuring the provincial government to study the overall well-being of Islanders:

This is designed to acknowledge and include the overall well-being of our residents as key factors in the development of policy and programs. We included this in our 2020 budget submission to the province. I am happy government responded by committing multi-year funding for the Vital Signs project

Peter Bevan-Baker to global Green News.

Details on the Vital Signs project can be found here.

Guy Vertinsky

Guy is currently pursuing a BA Honours in Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal. His main interest areas are Canadian and Latin American politics. He enjoys studying the political setting and dynamics of various group relations, movements and intergovernmental affairs. Guy is the current President of the Canadian Political Society of Concordia University. When he is not working or studying he enjoys traveling, playing sports and the great outdoors.

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