Province Expanding Access to Dental Care and Affordable Prescription Drugs for Vulnerable SeniorsPublished on May 11, 2021
The Ontario government is updating the income eligibility thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and the Seniors Co-Payment Program to allow more of Ontario's most vulnerable seniors to have access to dental care and affordable prescription medications.
"Our government continues to support Ontario's seniors by ensuring they have access to the quality dental care and the prescription medications they need," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
"Expanding access to these programs to even more low-income seniors builds on our government’s ongoing efforts to protect hospital capacity and will help improve the quality of life and well-being of low-income seniors."
"This is especially good news for Niagara, a region with a growing number of seniors," said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.
"Ontario's government continues to put vulnerable patients at the centre of care by providing seniors with the support they need to access affordable dental care and prescriptions. We are taking another step in creating a sustainable and connected health care system that is built for the future."
In 2019, the Ontario government launched the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program to provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province. The Seniors Co-Payment Program enables low-income seniors to access the medication they need with no annual deductible and a reduced co-payment for each prescription.
Starting August 1st, 2021, eligibility thresholds for both programs will be updated to reflect cost of living increases in Ontario and align with income support programs for seniors. Income thresholds will be updated for single Ontarians aged 65 and over, from $19,300 to $22,200, and for couples with a combined annual income, from $32,300 to $37,100. This will allow approximately 7,000 more seniors to access the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and 17,000 more seniors to access the Seniors Co-Payment Program in 2021-2022.
By ensuring seniors can access effective dental care and continue to afford the medications they need, the Ontario Seniors Dental Care and Seniors Co-Payment programs help to reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital and improve seniors' quality of life. This further supports hospital capacity as Ontario continues to fight the third wave of COVID-19 and is a key component of the government’s plan to end hallway health care.
For the Seniors Co-Payment Program, seniors who are eligible under the new income thresholds are encouraged to apply now in advance of the start of the upcoming benefit year on August 1st, 2021. Applying early will help ensure eligible seniors receive the reduction in their drug deductible and co-payment on time to minimize the chance of out-of-pocket expenses. Once an application has been submitted, eligibility will be assessed to confirm enrollment for the year.
"We know that good oral health is linked to not only better physical health, but also better overall mental health," said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.
"These programs help provide seniors with the dignity they deserve and help to improve their quality of life."