Premier John Horgan opens door to including dental coverage within B.C.’s health care system

By Richard Zussman

Online Journalist based at B.C. Legislature  Global News

B.C. Premier John Horgan is not opposed to the idea of the province covering dental care as part of the provincial health care system.

Horgan was asked about the issue as part of a year-end interview with Global News.

“We have been looking at it and hopefully we will be able to do something about it in the next budget,” Horgan said.

WATCH: March 2018 — B.C. to increase number of annual dental surgeries

The Ontario NDP unveiled a campaign promise in March in to extend dental care to people in the country’s most populated province without insurance coverage.

The NDP estimated the plan would provide dental benefits to 4.5 million Ontarians at a cost of $1.2 billion.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath pitches public dental plan

The plan would cover basic procedures such as dentures, exams, X-rays, fillings, cleanings and restorative work.

“It would take pressure off of our doctors’ offices, and off of our hospitals, where people are now forced to go when they’re in absolute crisis when it comes to their mouth and their oral health and their dental needs,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said during the election campaign.

Horwath is now the leader of the official opposition, losing to current Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Under the plan, public cash would cover care for seniors without insurance and those on social assistance.

For employers, the NDP would make offering a minimum standard of dental coverage mandatory, including for part-time and contract workers.

READ MORE: Overcoming barriers to affordable dental care

British Columbia’s Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums currently cover medically necessary services provided by physicians and midwives, dental and oral surgery performed in a hospital, eye examinations that are medically required and some orthodontic services.

Horgan said that his own experience has made it clear to him how important dental services are.

WATCH: March 2018 — Vulnerable B.C. children will have quicker access to dental surgery

“I got my two front teeth knocked out playing basketball when I was a kid and it meant that I was always tentative about smiling. Dental care, dental health is critically important to physical well-being as well as mental well-being,” Horgan said.

“I believe it’s an area we need to move into with kids and get good habits with good oral hygiene and make sure that is funded.”

READ MORE: Is better training the answer to cutting wait times for dental surgery?

In 2008, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) supported a motion to ask the province to take immediate steps to remove access barriers to dental health care, allocate more funding for basic dental health care insurance for low income individuals and families in the province, and work with the BC Dental Association to resolve the discrepancy between the BC Dental Fee guide and the actual fees charged by dentists.

In 2018, UBCM discussed requiring the Ministry of Health to add basic dental care to MSP coverage and to have B.C. mandate a provincial requirement for all public water source treatment to include fluoridation where naturally-occurring levels do not meet the minimum suggested level of 0.07mg/L.

• With files from Kerri Breen

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Rural Evidence Review Project/Centre for Rural Health Research – Survey

What Are Your Priorities?

Note: This survey is now closed.

Please answer a few questions at the link below to share your health care priorities with us and help us to address the issues that are most important to you and your community.

Find our short, anonymous survey here!

An Investigation of Rural Citizen-Patient Priorities for Health Planning
Why are we doing the study?

We are interested in working with rural citizens to provide high quality, useful evidence for rural health services planning in British Columbia. To do this we will: (1) ask rural citizens to identify the health care priorities that matter the most to them and their communities, (2) analyze what we hear, and (3) present what we learn to policy-makers and health administrators in the province. 

Who is conducting the study?
We are a team of researchers from the Centre for Rural Health Research, within the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia.

Principal Investigator: 
Jude Kornelsen, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia (UBC)
Co-Director, Centre for Rural Health Research
T: (250) 653-4325

Research Coordinator:
Christine Carthew, MPH
Centre for Rural Health Research, Department of Family Practice, UBC
T: (604) 827-2193

What happens if you say: “Yes, I want to participate”?
We are using the survey to reach the residents of rural and remote communities across B.C. to learn about their communities’ priorities for health care. 

The survey is voluntary, anonymous and brief (it takes 10 minutes or less to complete!). 

By completing the survey, you are giving your consent to participate in the research study.
That is, you are agreeing to let the research team use your answers to help to identify the topics that we research and that we try to improve.
You can stop at any time before you submit your survey.
However, because the survey is anonymous, you will not be able to withdraw your participation from the study once you have submitted the questionnaire. 

The research team will also be conducting telephone interviews to learn about the health care issues that are most important to rural citizens and communities in B.C. If you would like to participate in a follow-up research interview to talk more about this topic, please contact the Research Coordinator (Christine Carthew) directly at the email listed above. 

How will the results of the study be shared?
The study’s findings will be shared in the form of plain language summaries to participating communities and posted to our website ( We will also write academic publications and a policy brief to the Health Authorities and the B.C. Ministry of Health, and give conference presentations. 

The academic publications will be shared through open access journals, which means that the findings will be made publically available. In addition, given the public nature of the Centre for Rural Health Research’s website, the plain language summaries will be accessible by members of the public. That said, any information that can identify you will be excluded from all reports and publications about the study.

If you would like to receive information about the results of the study directly, please let our team know by contacting the Research Coordinator (Christine Carthew) at the email listed above.

What are the benefits of participating?
The survey provides you with the opportunity to reflect on and to share your concerns and priorities for health care in British Columbia with the research team.
The findings will be used to help our team to identify the topics that we research and that we bring forward to policy-makers and health administrators to improve.

 Is there any way that being in the study could be bad for you?
There are no known risks for you to participate in this study. We will ask you about the most important health care needs and priorities in your community. Your answers to the survey questions will remain anonymous. You can choose not to answer any of the questions. 

Who can you contact if you have questions about the study?
If you have any questions or concerns about the research study or the consent process, please contact the study’s Principal Investigator or the Project Coordinator. Their names and contact information are listed at the top of this page. 

Who can you contact if you have complaints or concerns about the study?
If you have any concerns or complaints about your rights as a research participant and/ or your experience of participating in this study, please contact the Research Participant Complaint Line within the UBC Office of Research Ethics, at (604) 822-8598.
Or if long distance, please email or call toll free
1 (877) 822-8598.

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Patients searching for family doctor at new Langford care centre leave disappointed

CTV Vancouver Island 
Published Monday, November 5, 2018 1:51PM PST 
Last Updated Monday, November 5, 2018 6:30PM PST

There was confusion on opening day of a new urgent primary care facility on the West Shore Monday morning.More than a dozen people waited in line before the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre opened its doors for the first time at 8 a.m.
But some of those people were frustrated to learn that they would not be able to find a new family doctor at the centre – at least for now.

More than a dozen people lined up on opening day of a new urgent primary care facility in Langford Monday morning. Nov. 5, 2018. (CTV Vancouver Island)

“It’s just purely an urgent care walk-in clinic,” said Wendy Wilson. “I asked if there was a waiting list, no they don’t have a waiting list. I asked if they knew when the prospective pod is going to open for doctors, the answer was no, they don’t know that but it won’t be until the new year for sure.”

Wilson said she was hoping to find a family doctor for her three-year-old grandson as well as herself.

“I had a brain tumour taken out a year ago June, and I’m getting older. I need care,” she said.

When it was announced early last week, the province said the new urgent primary care facility in Langford would better connect locals with health care providers.

Such facilities are meant to consolidate multiple health care providers, services and other programs to employ “team-based” care, meaning doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and other professionals work in conjunction with one another.

A total of 10 urgent primary care centres are expected to be opened in B.C. in the next 10 years. Facilities have already been announced for Surrey, Quesnel and Kamloops.

Langford Mayor Stew Young welcomed the new care centre saying about one-third of West Shore’s population do not have a family doctor.

The province says the new West Shore facility will eventually be able to accommodate 128 patients per day and up to 40,000 visits a year.

But for now, it appears a few residents will have to wait until next year to find a general practitioner.

“I would say a third of the people that were in this line-up were not here for care for today, they were looking for a doctor,” said Wilson. “I was hopeful. Foolish of me, but I was hopeful.”