OttawaMinister of Finance Paul Martin appeared before the House of Commons today to deliver the first budget in more than 18 months. As expected, the key elements of the budget focused on increasing funding to security and infrastructure. Of the approximately $8 billion in new spending, two items were given some attention that support the Canadian Dental Associations position and recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
An increase in funding of $185 million was devoted to aboriginal childhood development. Were pleased to see that government is taking the health of the First Nations and Inuit community seriously, commented Dr. George Sweetnam, CDA president. Hopefully, some of that funding will be earmarked for oral health initiatives to help this population reach an oral health status closer to that of other Canadians.
The government recognized the need to improve the quality of life of aboriginal peoples within its election platform. In spite of this, oral health indicators among First Nations children frequently mirror those of developing nations.
Medical and University Research also received a boost of $1 billion over the next three years. Of this, $75 million went to the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. The Canadian Dental Association supports this measure, and would like to see a proportionate amount of the increase going to dental research, said Dr. Sweetnam. Good research is vital to planning for the oral health needs of Canadians. Were lagging behind in the amount of funding that goes to dental research, at the same time that were increasingly recognizing its importance. This trend must be reversed.
CDA was disappointed that Minister Martin did not accept the recommendations of the CDA and the House of Commons Finance Committee that called for an increase in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs). Current policy on increases to RRSP contributions have fallen far behind
Contact: Beth Keeping
Canadian Dental Association