April 7, 2022

GSC and community partners launch new reports uncovering the social impact of oral health

GSC and community partners launch new reports uncovering the social impact of oral health

TORONTO, ONTARIO (APRIL 7, 2022) – Green Shield Canada (GSC), in partnership with Toronto Foundation, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation and the Ottawa Community Foundation, is proud to announce the launch of a new series of social impact reports called Left Behind: The State of Oral Health. The three reports available here:

Or, on our Foundation partners’ sites, delve into the local state of oral health in Toronto, Waterloo Region and Ottawa, exploring the social issues that impact access to oral health care.

This analysis comes at a critical time. In Canada, one in three people lack coverage for dental care, while low-income Canadians are four times more likely to avoid seeing a dentist because of cost and two times more likely to have poor dental outcomes.

In creating the Left Behind: The State of Oral Health series, GSC and its Foundation partners uncovered more alarming trends, including:

  • Dental care is increasing in cost faster than nearly every other type of cost. From 2001 to 2020, dental care services have grown by 81 per cent, twice as fast as inflation overall at 41 per cent. This exceeds nearly every other category of goods and services.
  • There is strong racial inequity present in access to care. In all three communities studied, racialized residents were significantly less likely (between 15 per cent and 39 per cent) to have dental coverage than white residents.
  • Precarious employment is making things worse. With the rise in self-employment and the increase in low-paying precarious jobs, the odds of a full-time, low-income worker not having employer-sponsored dental insurance has increased by 56 per cent in ten years (Waterloo Region).

“These statistics reveal large gaps in the Canadian health care system and highlight how access to dental care is an issue that is too often rendered invisible or overshadowed in the busy public health landscape,” explains Mila Lucio, GSC’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Social Impact.

“As these reports unveil, access to care is deeply intertwined with complex social issues, from the rise of precarious employment to increasing food insecurity. These observations also underscore the importance of the commitments being made at both federal and provincial government levels for expanded care and make the case for urgent deployment of funds to close the obvious gaps.”

The reports outline the challenges faced by many residents in Toronto, Waterloo Region and Ottawa in accessing affordable dental care – and the ripple effects of these challenges. Whether it be the association between oral inflammation and heart disease, or findings that employment opportunities decrease for those with worse oral health, or that tooth loss can contribute to locking individuals in a cycle of homelessness – the numbers indicate that poor oral health is a pressing and underserved health care issue which can be linked to worse physical, mental and social outcomes.

“One thing is clear: for many of the most vulnerable people in our communities, the current system has left them behind and without support,” adds Lucio. “This series on oral health is intended to equip health care providers and community advocates with the information they need build support for community oral health care. “By demonstrating that access to dental care is not only a health concern, but also represents a significant social issue that is intricately connected to broader wellbeing, we hope to spur increased action, attention and investment in the issue of oral health.”

These reports represent GSC’s latest advocacy efforts in the oral health space, building on the momentum of its innovative Green Door Project. Visit greendoorproject.ca to learn about GSC’s commitment to transforming access to oral health care in Canada or the organization’s latest oral health grants in partnership with Toronto Foundation


For more information:

GSC Media Department
1.800.268.6613 ext. 3409


About Green Shield Canada (GSC)

Green Shield Canada (GSC), one of the country’s largest health benefits carriers and uniquely structured as a social enterprise, has been shaping the health care landscape for 65 years with a unique brand of expertise and innovation, and currently serves over 4.5 million Canadians across health and dental benefits and pharmacy benefits management. Through the GSC group of companies’ strategic investments and commercial partnerships, GSC is also able to provide clients with an integrated experience that includes delivery of health care via an ever-expanding digital health ecosystem and full benefits administration support.

GSC believes all Canadians should have access to the services they need to improve their health and well-being, but for too many that’s not a reality. With a focus on filling gaps in the Canadian health care system in oral and mental health, GSC and the Green Shield Association will invest $75M in oral and mental health social impact initiatives by 2025 to drive measurable improvements in health outcomes for Canadians – and support GSC’s commitment to Better Health for All.