June 12, 2013

Poverty Reduction Budget? Definitely Not, but We're Headed in the Right Direction

On June 12, 2013 Ontario’s 2013 Budget, A Prosperous and Fair Ontario, passed its third and final reading in the legislature.   You may recall that earlier in the year the 25in5 Network for Poverty Reduction, along with many other anti-poverty groups across the province, pushed hard for the government to take positive steps to reduce the hardship experienced by people in Ontario who live on low-incomes. 

After all of our hard work we are both disappointed with what has been offered and hopeful that the changes made to our social assistance and income security systems will help to build momentum for positive social assistance reform and for the next Poverty Reduction Strategy, due at the end 2013. (Click here to refresh your memory on 25in5’s call to Put Fairness in the Budget and here for MCC Ontario's letter to Premier Wynne and Ms. Andrea Horwath in response to the budget).

I suppose the collective feeling around the anti-poverty table might be that the budget is lackluster.  It delivers some key changes that must take place to move forward but, as far as fairness is concerned, the budget is far from moving low-income people out of poverty.

On the hopeful side, the $14/month increase in the incomes of single people receiving Ontario Works, accompanied by a 1% increase for all people receiving social assistance, leaves us feeling optimistic that our political leaders are committed to moving forward.  $14 may not seem like a lot, but when one’s total monthly social assistance income is a mere $656 (after taxes and transfers), every little bit helps. (Source: Ministry of Community and Social Services: Income of Social Assistance Recipients).

June 6, 2013

Ontario Oral Health Alliance Symposium: Keeping the Momentum to Promote Access to Affordable Dental Care for All

Written by Josie Newman

A symposium of Ontario's public health care professionals who work in oral health came together last week to compare notes on progress made during the last year on getting the message out to the community and to politicians of the high priority of publicly funded oral health care. Ontario's current system has a patchwork quilt approach to public dental funding with its main emphasis on children and those on social assistance or disability support.    

Delegates to the Ontario Oral Health Alliance symposium, held at the Bramalea Community Health Centre, reported that the 2012 postcard campaign which sent hundreds of the public's signatures on postcards to MPPs advocating the extension of provincial programs to include adults who need and can't afford emergency dental treatment was met with agreement by a majority of the 26 MPPs who received the postcards. Other delegates reported success within their communities in terms of receiving greater municipal funding, and with adults and seniors expressing their need for more publicly funded programs. Yet others expressed frustration with what they said was an attempt by some dentists to discourage politicians from giving more funding for public programs.   
Photo Credit: Purva Singh
Symposium attendees Maureen Embleton, Karen Johnston of the Durham
Region Health department, oral health division; Josie Newman, and
Sister Georgette Gregory of Fontbonne Ministries, the Sisters
of St. Joseph of Toronto discuss
oral health issues in Ontario.
 OOHA chairperson Anna Rusak said that the current high cost of hospital emergency room dental-related visits should be curtailed and those costs emphasized to politicians because they are much greater than the costs of funding public dental programs. Preliminary research suggests that too many people in Ontario visit ERs with dental related emergencies. She also suggested public oral health care workers ask physicians to examine their patients' teeth and refer them to dentists if they notice problems.