Canadian Dental Hygienists Association and Provincial Lobbying Efforts Succeed: Increased Access to Care for First Nations and Inuit Peoples

CDHA is excited to share the great news with you! The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch’s Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) is initiating an 18 month pilot project in the Alberta region to pay dental hygienists directly for NIHB eligible dental services rendered to eligible First Nations and Inuit clients under the NIHB Program. The NIHB Program has invited other Health Canada’s FNIH regions to consider the potential of joining this pilot project where the provincial/territorial legislation permits dental hygienists to be recognized as independent providers.

CDHA President Jacki Blatz reports that “CDHA’s work began in 2003 and for the next 7 years, we made it our priority to lobby the government on this front. Our efforts have finally paid off! We made oral presentations and written submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committees on Health and Finance and numerous presentations directly to Health Canada personnel, including Director Generals, Regional Directors and Benefits Management staff. Our stakeholders, such as the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta, the Assembly of First Nations, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, were important allies in the process, as we worked collaboratively with them to ensure our requests reflected their members’ needs. In addition numerous dental hygienists across Canada and their provincial associations have written letters to FNIHB describing the poor oral health status of their First Nations and Inuit clients. ”

The new pilot project will increase access to care and improve oral health for First Nations and Inuit peoples. For any inquiries regarding the Alberta Region pilot project, please communicate directly with the FNIH Alberta region Dental Predetermination Office at 1-888-495-2516.

For additional information contact: Judy Lux, MSW, Health Policy Communications Specialist 613 224-5515 ext 123 or 1-800-267 5235.