CDA Essentials 2019 • Volume 6 • Issue 3

15 Issue 3 | 2019 | CDA at W ork Dentists who provide oral health care to inmates in Canada’s federal correctional facilities face a combined challenge of fewer resources and limited opportunities to provide a basic level of care, according to Dr. Mitch Taillon, CDA immediate past-president. Dr. Taillon highlighted the experiences of dentists who work in federal correctional facilities in February, as part of his presentation as an invited panelist of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. The Committee invited CDA and other national organizations whose members work with prisoners to contribute to its multi-year study of the human rights of federally sentenced persons. Oral health care in federal correctional facilities is provided by dentists hired by Correctional Service Canada (CSC) on contract. Dentists provide services according to the CSC’s National Essential Health Services Framework, which establishes that essential dental care focus on relieving pain and infection, managing disease and providing education about preventive oral hygiene. The majority of services authorized by CSC are emergency services like tooth extractions and draining of infections; preventive services are only allowed with special authorization. “We rely on the insights of those dentists who enter these institutions to provide care,” Dr. Taillon told the Committee members. “What we hear from dentists is that the work in this these institutions is a significant challenge, with wait lists for services and a growing prison population. Most notably, we heard from several dentists in 2014, around the time of the introduction of program changes and budget restrictions that fundamentally changed the way dentists were able to work in prisons.” In some cases, dentists who worked in prisons had their contracts cut from several visits per week to once per month. As a result, basic preventive services, which could help reduce the need for emergency care, are very rarely provided. “The dentists who take on this work in Canada’s federal correctional facilities are providing an important service, and they do this because they genuinely care about these patients,” said Dr. Taillon. “But they increasingly feel as though the changes made to how they can provide this care is arbitrary and does not respect their professional knowledge or previous dedication for caring for these inmates.” When the Committee concludes its study, it will produce a final report with recommendations to the federal government. The interim report is available on the Senate of Canada website. a CDA Presents to Senate Committee on Dental Care inCorrectional Facilities