April 22, 2019

Calgary earmarks $750,000 from flouridation savings for kids’ dental care programs

By: Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald, Calgary, Ontario 04-Jul-2012 — The city is closer to washing its hands of dental-care delivery by  recommending one-time funding for charities.

The city has earmarked $750,000 saved from shutting off fluoride injection  into city drinking water last year to go toward alternative anti-cavity programs  for children living in poverty.

On Wednesday, council’s community and protective services committee approved  a plan to divvy one-time capital funding among the Alex and Calgary Urban  Project Society because they already have health services in place.

“We stopped doing something that perhaps wasn’t our responsibility but we’d  been doing it for decades,” said Ald. Druh Farrell, who led the initial charge  to stop medicating Calgarians through drinking water.

“So this is to provide a transition and we’ve made a very clear statement  that we’re not in the business of providing health care,” she said.

“I recognize this is provincial responsibility to provide health care. We did  make a commitment to take some of the savings and put it into whole dental  health for children of low income.”

“It is short-term, it is capital and I think that’s an important principle.  They’re sound recommendations that help a lot of kids who need our help,” she  said.

Ald. Jim Stevenson said he supports the charities involved, but opposes the  funding plan, which council will debate later.

“My problem is that once again, we’re moving into funding what the Alberta  government should be funding. It’s very difficult for me to support taking  three-quarters of a million dollars and putting it into funding that’s not our  responsibility when there are so many requests that are our responsibility that  we can’t fill.”

The city is not prepared to continue funding the projects, but rather offer  capital.

“It’s not something that’s going to affect our budget long-term,” said Ald.  Andre Chabot. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to actually do something to help  stimulate better understanding of what can help promote dental health.”

The Alex stands to gain $585,000 through an endowment fund to keep its bus  running.

CUPS is earmarked for $165,000 in capital funding for the expansion of its  dental services to include children.

CUPS now offers adult-only dental services on weekends, but wants to add  another dental chair exclusively for treating children when it moves to its new  facility at 10th Street and 10th Avenue S.W.

Building on the success of its health outreach bus, which offers medical  treatment to Calgarians living in poverty, the Alex expects its new dental bus  will cater exclusively to children, and is hoping to treat up to 12,000 a  year.

When the city stopped the flow of fluoride in Calgary’s drinking water, it  pledged to funnel $750,000 — the annual cost of adding the cavity-fighting  compound — into dental-health programs for kids in need.

The Alex Community Health  Centre’s new dental bus arrives here next week, and aims to be on streets  by September.

The $375,000 bus, paid for through donations from the Willow Park charity  classic golf tournament, arrives fully equipped with two dental chairs and X-ray  machines.

The bus is the second mobile health unit, which is paid for through  donations, said Shelley Heartwell, CEO of the Alex Community Health Centre.

It is estimated the dental bus will cost $50,000 each year to operate.

While the city’s plan to set up an endowment will help keep the bus moving,  the Alex says it will pursue provincial dollars.

Controversy over the benefits of adding fluoride to the water supply saw the  city quit using it last year. Council ruled that delivering dental services fell  outside its mandate.

Critics voiced concern that ending fluoridation limited the access of  impoverished families to the enamel-building mineral.

Low-income families identified dental heath as a top concern, according to a  United Way report.