The Quebec government is implementing five pilot projects to provide front-line dental services to people with low incomes or living in remote areas.
During a press conference on Monday, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, announced the opening of two clinics in Montreal, one in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts in Gaspésie, one in Val-des-Sources in Estrie and one in Ville de Gatineau in Outaouais.
The Montreal clinics are the Dentaville Clinic at Notre-Dame Hospital and the Jim Lund Dental Clinic at McGill University.
The five clinics, which could serve some 22,000 people, have an initial budget of $3 million for the first year.
“We want to find a way to do this where customer monetary issues are not an issue,” Dubé explained.
“Unfortunately, with the system as we know it, there are a lot of people going without oral care who shouldn’t.”
These pilot projects represent a first phase in reducing dental health inequities, the province’s health department said in a news release. If successful, a second phase is possible and could extend services to approximately 600,000 people, or 7% of the Quebec population.
When asked if this investment was a commitment by the Quebec government to expand public coverage for dental care, Dubé explained that it was more about solving local problems.
“We want to act in the regions with local issues. This is our approach,” he said. Right here [in Gaspésie] it’s about attracting dentists. It’s not particularly a question of remuneration.”
Currently in Quebec, public dental services are offered to children aged 9 and under, residents of CHSLDs and beneficiaries of a social assistance program.
No dentist in Haute-Gaspésie
The Haute-Gaspésie region lost its only dentist this summer, leaving 11,000 residents of the regional county municipality (RCM) without dental care services.
The clinic of the dentist who left was acquired by the local health authority — the CISSS de la Gaspésie. It will be used to provide front-line dental services in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. The province wants to hire two dentists, two hygienists, two assistants, a secretary and a part-time coordinator.
The clinic will welcome the entire population of Haute-Gaspésie, according to Nathalie Guibault, director of professional care at the CISSS de la Gaspésie.
“What’s important is that people can have services within their means,” she said.
No opening date for any of the five clinics has been announced.
Chantal Duguay, President and CEO of the CISSS de la Gaspésie, indicated that while waiting for the opening of the Sainte-Anne-des-Monts dental clinic, she promises that residents of the region will have quick access to services. oral care.
“While waiting to have a dentist on site, we have a transitional measure which is to set up a team of traveling dentists to come to Haute-Gaspésie,” she said.
‘One step forward’
The Order of Dentists of Quebec (ODQ) sees the pilot projects as a first step towards recognizing the importance of oral health care.
“This announcement responds in part to a long-standing request from the Order to integrate part of the activities of dentistry, including preventive care, into the public health system, which will allow the establishment of a more large number of service corridors,” said ODQ President Dr. Guy Lafrance in a press release.
He sees this investment as “a step forward”, but maintains that “there is still a long way to go to give access” to these services to a greater number of Quebecers.