The leader of Ontario’s NDP has unveiled a campaign promise to extend dental care to millions without insurance coverage.
Should the NDP form the next government of Ontario, Andrea Horwath said the program would provide dental benefits to 4.5 million Ontarians at a cost of $1.2 billion.
The party anticipates the plan, called Ontario Benefits, would cover basic procedures such as dentures, exams, X-rays, fillings, cleanings, and restorative work.
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.
Businesses would have the option of participating in the public plan — with benefits covered 75 per cent by the employer, 25 per cent by the employee — or offering a comparable level of coverage through a private company.
At a press conference on Monday, Horwath said the plan 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 its comes to their mouth and their oral health and their dental needs.”
The party said if Horwath becomes premier, the plan would be fully implemented by the end of her first term.
Horwath says an NDP government would raise the money to pay for the plan by increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
The NDP leader also said that her party would run a deficit if elected, but she would not provide any further details.
The announcement comes as the governing Ontario Liberals outlined priorities ahead of the final budget before the June election.
Monday’s throne speech revealed the Liberals will offer measures to cut hospital wait times, lower child-care costs and expand mental-health services while reducing the overall deficit.
With files from the Canadian Press