Inuvik Twin Lakes
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to discuss oral health care in the NWT, especially for communities outside the capital. In my community, we have a dental clinic that serves not only Inuvik, but the Beaufort-Delta. That is not enough. I would like to refer to an oral health action plan released by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK, in 2013. I quote from the executive summary: "The 2008-2009 Inuit oral health survey highlighted the need for urgent and comprehensive measures to overcome the unacceptably high rate of oral disease that is two to three times that of the rest of Canada."
Mr. Speaker, in the NWT, there is an Oral Health Action Plan that was created, and it is a three-year action plan from 2018 to 2021. The Minister at the time wrote in the Minister's message in that action plan: "We know that good oral health is an essential element of our overall health. We know that healthy mouths in children are crucial for adequate nutrition, growth, language development, school performance, and social well-being. Yet, dental caries is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood and places a substantial burden on our population."
Mr. Speaker, in the same document, in the introduction of the action plan, it states that oral health is an important element of our general health. Oral health is an important element of our general health. Healthy mouths and teeth in children promote healthy growth, nutrition, speech/language development, good school performance, and social well-being. Sadly, chronic pain and tooth loss from untreated oral disease can impair a child's ability to eat, speak, sleep, and learn. In adults, oral disease has been linked to an array of chronic and systemic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, and pneumonia.
We know all this, but yet we are still failing in providing equitable dental services to our communities. Instead of prevention, we continue to arrange medical travel for surgery for essential dental work in our children. Mr. Speaker, dental therapists used to be able to work in the communities to do this work, but, since the closing of the last dental therapist school on November 2011 in Canada, there are few left.
Mr. Speaker, we can't un-know what we know. What is this government going to do about it? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.