Quebec will now include dental care for young cancer sufferers


Quebec public health insurance will now include certain oral care for young cancer patients.

The government says about 100 children are diagnosed with cancer in the province every year.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment can damage the mouth and young teeth – and for those who need surgery, it can harm their families.

Such dental care is currently not covered by Quebec's public insurance plan (RAMQ).

Health Minister Danielle McCann said after the Radio-Canada investigation program La Facture airing a report on this issue last December, the government decided to "correct injustice."

"We are talking about very expensive treatments. We are talking about between $ 5,000 and $ 75,000," McCann said at a press conference announcing the new program.

McCann noted that those who had a car accident could undergo reconstruction surgery through a public insurance plan.

Jérémy, one of the subjects of La Facture's investigation of the cost of dental care for young cancer patients, was announced in funding by the Quebec Ministry of Health. His mother, Marie-Claude Hébert, is seen in the background. (CBC Montreal)

One of the subjects La Facture report, Jérémy, present with his family. After he survived rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common type of soft tissue cancer in children, medical experts estimate he needs at least $ 30,000 for dental care.

"Some children … will lose teeth or [have] teeth that are not in the right position or the right shape, "said Dr. Marie-Ève ​​Asselin, head of the dental department of the Sainte-Justine Hospital.

RAMQ will include preventive care and reconstructive surgery, McCann said, at a cost of around $ 1.5 million per year. He said further details about the program will be announced in April.

The government will close dental care for young survivors to early adulthood. The special details are "fantastic news," said the head of the Ordre des dentistes de Québec, Dr. Barry Dolman, because it shows that the government recognizes sometimes it's best to wait before carrying out reconstruction work.

"This shows a new policy direction," said Dolman, who said he witnessed a decade of provincial budget cuts for dental care.

He said he took the announcement as a positive sign that the government would be open to covering other dental jobs that are needed medically in the future, such as for children born with deformities.

Health care critic Québec Solidaire, Sol Zanetti, whose party campaigned for promises to provide universal dental care, also said he wanted to see the government go further.

"It only targets a few patients, and that is a very good thing for them," he said.

"We must see the big picture: many people will be left behind."


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