Edmonton soldier battles Ottawa to get dental work done

Watch above: After two tours of duty in Afghanistan, an Edmonton soldier’s dental work has been cancelled. As Kendra Slugoski reports, it’s calling into question whether Ottawa is taking care of its troops.

EDMONTON — An Edmonton solider has served his country for 23 years, during which he was deployed twice to Afghanistan. Now, with just a few months left before his retirement, he’s in a battle with the Department of National Defence over dental work.

Eighteen months ago, Sgt. Dwain Bergeron went to the dentist at CFB Edmonton, where he got a tooth pulled. He was told he would need a dental bridge, which the dentist started prep work for.

But this past October, the 48-year-old received an email from a dental assistant at the base.

“It said, basically, my appointment was cancelled due to no funding available, and that I would be put on a list to have another [appointment] booked.”

The email also said: “we have no money until April.” That’s when Bergeron is set to retire. And once he’s out of the military, he’ll have to pay for his own dental work, which could cost up to $10,000.

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Global News has tried to get answers from National Defence on whether there have been funding cutbacks, and if Ottawa has provided enough money to cover scheduled dental procedures. We’ve waited for those answers since October.

In an Oct. 16, 2014 email, a public affairs officer wrote: “overlapping absences here in the office have conspired to create a lapse in getting you a response.”

Our request then came to a halt after the shooting tragedy in Ottawa.

Bergeron has since been told a staff member in the dental office gave him wrong information. However, he has heard from other soldiers who also reportedly had their appointments cancelled.

“If it’s truly because of funding, then there’s a lot of other people facing the same issue. And they’re not going to get the same level of care they need with dental because of this.”

As he continues to wait for his dental work, Bergeron has had to endure what he described as “a consistent ache throughout the day…when it gets really bad, it’ll go up the side of the head.”

He now has another dentist appointment booked, but not to finish the work already started. “And from what they’ve told me, they won’t do [the bridge],” he said.

Bergeron added that, when it comes to health care, there has always been an expectation among those who serve their country that their needs will be taken care of.

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READ MORE: Soldiers at war with PTSD

“One of the main reasons people join is that, number one, you have first-rate medical care, first-rate dental care,” Bergeron said.

“And now it appears due to a shortage of funds these soldiers aren’t going to get that.”

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News

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