As the regulatory body for Ontario dentists, working in the public’s interest, we believe that access to good oral health care must be improved for Ontarians. That’s why we hosted the College’s first Access to Care Symposium on November 13, 2019.
Our goal was to bring together and hear from the diverse voices affected by access to oral health care challenges. We collaborated with our system partners and community members – patients, community/patient advocacy organizations, dentists, oral health care workers, and industry and academic stakeholders – to discuss the barriers with respect to access to care and ways in which we can collaborate to find solutions to this issue.
We began by framing the problem at hand. The first set of panelists spoke about the various dimensions of access to care and why they matter. We heard from community health advocates, about the challenges faced by northern communities, including indigenous and first nations communities, and also from a patient that relies on ODSP.
“Health needs to be something that is comprehensive and accessible – it should not depend on where you live or how much you make.”
“We need to make oral health care and important part of overall health care in Canada.”
– Sané Dube, Alliance for Healthier Communities
“If we could get our heads around the financial piece, we could get to the bottom of half of the problem.”
“The use of a mobile dental office is key to servicing northern Ontario.”
– Dr. Peter Cooney, University of Toronto, Dental Consultant, Akwesasne First Nation, Northwestern Health Unit
“We can work together to see how we can advocate – we have lived experience, we can help.”
– Kyle Vose, ODSP Action Coalition
Left to right: Dr. Harinder Sandhu, Sané Dube, Dr. Peter Cooney, Kyle Vose
After framing some of the barriers to access to oral health care, our next set of panelists discussed current solutions and what can be done today to address access challenges.
“Ontario is really leading the way in integrating oral health care services into primary health care.”
– Scott Wolfe, Canadian Association of Community Health Centres
“Mobile dental clinics will be huge in reaching people who have access issues.”
– Abby Katz, Former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Seniors
“People who have oral health problems are more likely to have other health problems.”
– Dr. Patricia L. Abbey, Durham Region Health Department
“The point is, dental coverage options can be as creative as we want them to be.”
– Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto
Left to right: Abby Katz, Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, Dr. Patricia L. Abbey, Scott Wolfe
The audience was extremely engaged asking several questions throughout the question periods. The last task for the day involved participating in breakout sessions to brainstorm ideas for solutions to the access to care challenges and report back to the room.
The Symposium closed out with closing remarks from the College’s leaders on the success of the day and the importance of bringing these voices together.
"As a regulatory body, I am thrilled that we had the courage to put this on today…and hear from groups that we haven’t heard from before.”
– Irwin Fefergrad, RCDSO Registrar
“I’m delighted that you have risen to the challenge….it’s really been extraordinary to listen to all of your ideas.”
– Andréa Foti, RCDSO Assistant Registrar
The College is taking the information gathered at the Symposium to look at how we can help bring awareness to the barriers surrounding access to care, and what solutions we can contribute to within our regulatory function.
Thanks to everyone that attended and participated in the Symposium. It was a great success and we could not have done it without you! In the words of panelist, Kyle Vose:
“Feeling very hopefully after today’s “Access to Care” Symposium with the RCDSO…I left with a better understanding of the issue..."