Smitherman strengthens Ontario health care with legislation to improve Ontarians' access to Dental Hygiene care

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - A milestone in health care delivery has been
achieved as Ontario joins British Columbia and Alberta in improving public
access to oral hygiene care with passage and recent Royal Assent of amendments
to the Dental Hygiene Act in Bill 171, the Health System Improvement Act,
2007. Those amendments allow dental hygienists to self-initiate.
Self-initiation permits dental hygienists to clean patients' teeth without the
necessity of having an order from a dentist.
    "This achievement is as significant as the original passage of the
Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) because of the impact it will have on
health care in this province," commented Cathie Mazal-Kuula, President of the
College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO).
    Anti-poverty activists, seniors' advocates and those representing the
physically and mentally challenged have been working hard over the past 14
years to see this achieved.
    "The legislative amendments will increase access to preventive oral
health care services by those who currently cannot afford care through
conventional dental offices and who do not qualify for government support
programs," stated Brother Richard MacPhee, Executive Director, The Good
Shepherd Centres.
    "The McGuinty government and Health and Long-Term Care Minister
Smitherman deserve credit for doing what no other Ontario government has done
and for not buckling under the pressure of a few vested interests that would
have deprived many groups and individuals from their right of choice and
access to an important health care service," declared Nina Lewin, co-chair for
Ontario Voices for Oral Health.
    Recognition is also due to other current and former MPPs including Donna
Cansfield (Etobicoke Centre) and Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley West) who have
been tireless champions for this initiative.
    "The CDHO, the regulatory body for dental hygienists, will be coming
forward with a Standard of Practice to give all Ontarians assurance that
dental hygienists practising self-initiation can do so competently,
effectively and safely. The College will issue a Standard of Practice for
stakeholder review and consultation very shortly," advised CDHO Registrar,
Fran Richardson.
    This legislative amendment validates the spirit of the Regulated Health
Professions Act (RHPA) which was to facilitate the evolution of professions in
response to public need and advances in technology. "The key component of
dental hygiene education is the need for dental hygienists to recognize their
obligation to the public, before any employer, and their need to practise
ongoing professional development to maintain and enhance professional
competence," commented Linda Jamieson, President of Dental Hygiene Educators
    Over 40% of Ontarians currently do not have regular oral hygiene care
according to research conducted by the Commonwealth Fund.
    This situation will change dramatically once the legislation is
proclaimed and comes into legal force and effect. The CDHO anticipates
proclamation shortly.

    The CDHO was established pursuant to the Regulated Health Professions
Act, 1991 and the Dental Hygiene Act, 1991 as the statutory regulatory body
for dental hygienists who are registered to practise in Ontario. There are
currently over 8,500 dental hygienists registered to practise by the CDHO.

For further information:

For further information: CDHO President Cathie Mazal-Kuula or Registrar
Fran Richardson at (416) 961-6234

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