The P.E.I. government is backtracking on changes it planned to make for children's dental benefits announced last spring.
The province had planned to implement an income threshold that would see families who earn above $35,000 forced to pay more for their children's dental work.
The plan was set to go into effect Oct. 1 but after numerous complaints the government has now decided to stick primarily with the original system.
In a release, Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie said the provincial Children’s Dental Program will remain available to Islanders of all incomes, and that registration fees and co-pay amounts will remain unchanged.
He said the province decided to abandon the changes following a thorough review and consultation process.
"We’ve listened to Islanders and we’ve heard their concerns, and this decision will ensure that every child in Prince Edward Island has access to dental care," said Currie.
"Our diagnostic and treatment services will continue to be available all across the province, with both private and public dentists."
Diagnostic and treatment services include exams, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canal treatment, basic emergency services and preventative annual cleaning.
Children and adolescents between the ages of three and 17, whose family does not have private dental insurance, are eligible.
"We were able to basically reinstate the program," said Currie. "The only change is that government is the payer of last resort. So the program currently will be open to all families and children who don't have insurance coverage. Those who do have insurance coverage, government will not cover those families."
There is an annual registration fee of $15 to a maximum of $35 per family.
The release also stated that families are expected to pay a 20 per cent parent’s contribution on treatment services. Families with a net income of less than $30,000 can apply for an exemption to the parent’s contribution.
One of the concerns people raised when the proposed changes were announced last spring was moving diagnostic and treatment services to government clinics in Charlottetown and Summerside would reduce access for people in rural P.E.I.
In Currie's release Saturday, there was no specific mention of the plan to relocate services beginning in October.