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Canadians support publicly funded dental care for those without insurance, poll finds – National

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Canadians support publicly funded dental care for those without insurance poll finds National

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In the second instalment of a Global News series exploring the Canadian health-care system, we look at dental care and the costs that come with it.

Around 86 per cent of Canadians would support providing publicly funded dental care to those without insurance coverage, according to an opinion poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News. Around one third of Canadians are currently not covered by any dental insurance, including Stan Thompson. The Calgarian was mugged in Hamilton, Ont., in 2005 — he was stabbed multiple times, kicked in the head and suffered serious damage to his teeth.

“(My teeth) just became worse and worse to the point where I could actually remove them myself by hand,” he recalls. “There was damage to a lot of teeth and things started going downhill from there.”


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The professional comedian didn’t have dental insurance coverage and couldn’t afford to repair the damage. He says the pain and difficulty speaking meant he was unable to work and even struggled to eat.

“I went from 170 pounds to a 145 pounds,” he says. “It was very depressing. You just lose all confidence.”

Calgarian Stan Thompson was nearly killed and suffered serious damage to his teeth during a mugging in 2015.

Mike Gill / Global News

Thompson eventually connected with a local charity, CUPS Dental Services, which provides free dental care to low-income Calgarians. They extracted some of his damaged teeth and provided dentures.

“Thank God CUPS was able to come through. I was in a real low point at that particular time, with no real window to look through as to how I was going to get out of it,” he says.

Dental care in Canada is provided by a patchwork of charities, private plans and government-sponsored programs that typically target low-income families. Many countries across the developed world use a similar multi-faceted model, but Canada’s coverage rate of around 70 per cent lags behind, says Carlos Quinonez, head of the dental public health program at the University of Toronto.

“If you start comparing us to the U.K. or to other European Union countries, coverage there actually reaches close to 100 per cent,” Quinonez says. “I do think we need to move towards achieving universal access to dental care, meaning every Canadian should be able to have some level of coverage for basic oral health care services and that can happen in a variety of different ways.”

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AFP FILE/PHILIPPE HUGUEN

Quinonez says there’s a strong financial argument for fixing the system. Preventable dental issues led to more than 60,000 emergency room visits and 230,000 family doctor visits in Ontario in 2014, at a cost of around $40 million.

“The worst case scenario is somebody that goes to a physician’s office and is essentially told, ‘You need to go see a dentist.’ They’re given a painkiller or an antibiotic. Then they eventually end up in an emergency department, where they’re given more painkillers and more antibiotics and they’re told, ‘You need to go see a dentist.’ And then they ultimately get hospitalized because of a serious infection,” he says. “That’s a lot of wasted dollars along the way, when some basic dental care could have essentially solved that problem.”


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Anne Thériault knows first-hand how untreated dental problems can spiral. The Toronto writer had a near-perfect oral health record — “I’d only ever had one cavity my whole life,” she says — until she became pregnant nine years ago. In some women, increased hormones during pregnancy can affect the body’s response to plaque and lead to dental problems, such as gum disease and tooth decay. Thériault suffered far worse than most.

“At this point, I’ve had work done on every single tooth,” she says. “I’ve had pieces of my teeth falling out or teeth cracking or breaking in half. It’s been pretty bad and it is quite painful. And it does impact my quality of life.”

Toronto mother Anne Thériault developed serious dental health problems during pregnancy in 2010.

Anne Thériault

Fortunately, Thériault has dental insurance coverage through her husband’s employer. But she says the policy only covers a certain percentage of each dental procedure and includes an annual spending cap, which she has exceeded every year since her pregnancy. As a result, she estimates she’s spent more than $10,000 at the dentist on a wide range of different procedures.

“I’ve joked that other people pay down payments on houses. And I own teeth,” she says.


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A couple of years ago, she developed a tooth abscess from an untreated dental cavity. The bacterial infection spread to her lymph system.

“I had swollen lymph nodes and was experiencing health issues from that,” she recalls. “I would see my primary care doctor for my lymph node issues and the dentist for the dental abscess.

“It’s very frustrating to be in need of health care and not be able to afford it or access it, especially in a country that really prides itself so much on having such a strong health care system,” she says.

WATCH: Dalhousie teams up with Phoenix Youth to make dental hygiene more accessible





Of those Canadians who do not have dental coverage, the Ipsos poll found that nearly half opt not to visit the dentist at all. And despite popular misconceptions, only around 10 per cent of dental health problems are the result of poor oral hygiene practices.

“I would love to be able to say it’s as simple as everything is preventable; you brush your teeth, you floss your teeth, you
visit the dentist regularly and everything’s gonna be fine, but that’s just not the case,” explains Dr. David Stevenson, president of the Ontario Dental Association.

“From my perspective as a general practitioner, the overall dental health of people’s teeth and gums in Canada is in pretty good shape — it’s in very good shape, actually. But there are some gaps. There are some members of the population that are not getting access to good dental services. And as a country, as a government and as dentists we all have to be able to address that and acknowledge that and come up with a plan to try to fix that.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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FOREIGN NEWS

Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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