This Hallowe’en weekend, the Smile With Dignity dental committee sent a message to our BC premier that the lack of access to dental care is scariest of all. An enthusiastic and vocal group of campaign organizers and supporters (including a contingent from Occupy Vancouver) donned tooth costumes and rallied outside Christy Clark’s constituency office on October 29. Placards and posters declaring “dental care is a human right” and “universal dental care now” highlight the principle demand of the campaign: to have basic preventative and restorative dental services included in the BC Medical Services Plan.
Speakers shared their experiences and frustrations with our broken dental care system, where those without dental insurance must pay out-of-pocket for care – or live with the pain. Richard shared his experiences with his dental plan on income assistance, where inadequate coverage has left him with only 8 teeth remaining in his mouth. Cutbacks to the meager public dental programs leave parents such as Aiyanas struggling with the costs of dental care for his children. The Smile With Dignity committee has been gathering and documenting similar dental experiences from people on the streets (http://smilewithdignity.wordpress.com), and these stories were submitted to Christy Clark so that she can finally hear the voices and needs of our community.
From the large number of passersby who stopped to endorse the campaign that day, dental care is an issue that hit a nerve for many. Our health care system is neither universal nor accessible when only those with private insurance or money can get dental care. As health services fall under provincial jurisdiction, we will continue our escalating campaign and public pressure on Christy Clark, BC Minister of Health Services Michael de Jong, and the BC government to make the change.
To find out more about Smile With Dignity and how you can get involved, visit https://aphvan.wordpress.com/dental-campaign/