Province promises $32M over 3 years for dental program for kids in care, Manitobans on income assistance
$20M endowment fund also created to help EIA recipients gain employment
The Manitoba government is extending an arrangement that will allow kids in Child and Family Services care, as well as people receiving income assistance, to visit the dentist.
The province will spend $32 million over three years to extend the agreement with the Manitoba Dental Association, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced Wednesday.
"We are wanting to ensure that all children and recipients on our EIA program have equitable access to dental care, as would any individual living in our society," said Squires during a news conference Wednesday.
The agreement sees the province cover 90 per cent of a dentist bill for any child in the CFS system and anyone receiving employment and income assistance. The dentist covers the other 10 per cent.
Anyone who finds work or stops receiving EIA is still eligible for basic dental care for up to two years.
"Oral health conditions are health conditions just like any other part of your body, and they can be devastating," said Marc Mollot, past president of the Manitoba Dental Association, during Wednesday's news conference.
"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 health care, including oral health care."
Dental patients in Canada generally have better oral health outcomes, but having access to that type of care is a barrier for some, said Mollot.
Although the dental coverage for kids in CFS or people on income assistance is limited, the funding extension announced Wednesday will help thousands of Manitobans make sure they have healthy mouths, he said.
$20M fund to help EIA recipients find work
The Manitoba government is also creating a $20-million endowment fund that aims to help EIA recipients find work through community organizations, Squires announced Wednesday.
The fund will be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation and money will be distributed through grants to community organizations with programs that train people or help them look for work.
"Training up people for jobs that aren't available, that you have to search and find … is so precarious," said Shawn Mahoney, executive director of Opportunities for Employment in Winnipeg, during Wednesday's news conference.
"Humans fear rejection and anytime you can position somebody to walk into employment as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible, in a good-paying job — it benefits everybody."
Applications for the grants are expected to open some time in 2022. The province says it will consult with stakeholders and employment support programs in other jurisdictions to develop evidence-based eligibility and selection criteria.
At this point, initiatives to help EIA recipients might include wage subsidies, work placements or culturally appropriate pre-employment programs, Squires said.
That type of funding could lead to income assistance recipients gaining confidence and self-worth as they work toward self-sufficiency, said Mahoney.