Manitoba announces dental care, employment supports for low-income residents

The Manitoba provincial government says it plans to put more than $50 million into helping people on employment and income assistance (EIA).

Families Minister Rochelle Squires made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, in partnership with the Manitoba Dental Association and Opportunities for Employment Winnipeg.

The funding includes $32 million over three years to help low-income families and children in care receive access to basic dental care.

“In recent years Manitoba dentists have taken a leadership role on the devastating effects of poverty on oral health in children and adults,” Manitoba Dental Association past president Dr. Marc Mallot said during a press conference Wednesday.

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“Oral health conditions are health conditions just like any other parts of your body, and they can be devastating. Socio-economics can, to some extent, affect outcomes and access to care. So for Manitobans to have access to care is a critical component of any healthcare including your oral healthcare.”

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Under the program, EIA recipients who have found employment and no longer require income assistance will be eligible for up to 24 months of basic dental care.

“It covers 90 per cent of costs associated with care and dentists pick up the additional 10 per cent,” Mallot said. “There are maximums on insurance and of course it does cover basics, but it is important for children in care and adults to try to improve their outcomes to have access to that basic care.”

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Additionally, the province is also announcing a $20 million endowment fund that will be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation, to help individuals on EIA get back into the workforce. The funding will be distributed as grants that will aim to enhance training and employment opportunities.

“The reality is we, all humans, fear rejection,” Opportunities for Employment Winnipeg execuitve director Shawn Mahoney said. “And anytime you can position somebody to walk into employment as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible, and (to) a good-paying job, it benefits everybody.”

Applications for those grants are set to start in 2022.

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