Expansion of Dental Services to Increase First Nations Access to Culturally Safe Oral Health Services in BC



(Coast Salish Territory – Vancouver) - The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is pleased to announce recognition of dental hygienists as independent service providers within First Nations Health Benefits. With this change, Health Benefits now offers coverage for services provided by dentists, dental therapists, denturists, and now dental hygienists. Direct access to dental hygienists, who are primarily focused on oral disease prevention and oral health promotion, is aligned with FNHA's commitment to transform health programs upstream with a focus on health and wellness.

"These newly formed partnerships will aid the connection of dental hygiene providers to communities where services are needed most," said John Mah, Vice President of First Nations Health Benefits with the First Nations Health Authority. "This integration will support the FNHA's goal of bringing services closer to home, where people live, and help to reduce access to care barriers."

To seamlessly expand dental services in BC, FNHA is partnering with both the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia (CDHBC) and the British Columbia Dental Hygienists Association (BCDHA). The recognition of dental hygienists at FNHA also compliments changes taking place at the national level within Health Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.

"As regulated health care professionals, dental hygienists follow a Code of Ethics which states that clients are to be treated with respect for their individual values and needs. Having dental hygienists join many other health care professionals in completing cultural safety training is part of fulfilling the College's mandate of ensuring the public's access to safe and competent dental hygiene care," said Jennifer Lawrence, CEO of the College of Dental Hygienists of BC. "This change will increase access to dental hygiene services for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples and ensure those services are delivered in a respectful and safe way. CDHBC is pleased to support the continued the work of the #itstartswithme campaign for Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility in Health Service Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in BC."

Enrollment with the FNHA Health Benefits Program as independent service providers in BC began July 1, 2016.  First Nations Health Benefits welcomes independent dental hygienists and is confident that expanded access to oral health care, by drawing upon a continuum of oral healthcare providers, will lead to improved health outcomes for First Nations peoples in BC.

"Dental hygienists support their clients in achieving total wellness and are important members of the primary health care team," said Cindy Fletcher, Executive Director of the British Columbia Dental Hygienists Association. "Through this partnership with FNHA, dental hygienists can play a significant role in supporting healthier individuals and communities through collaboration with other health care providers and community members in the delivery of high quality, innovative oral healthcare programs for First Nations people."

FNHA is also requiring all registered dental hygiene providers who meet the CDHBC regulations to complete Indigenous cultural safety training – a first in the country.  Cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care. FNHA upholds cultural safety and humility as essential dimensions in its healthcare delivery program, and applauds our new partners' commitment to culturally safe healthcare.

For more information First Nations Health Benefits visit: www.fnha.ca/benefits.

To find out how to become an independent service provider with FNHB please contact Wendy Jobs at BCDHA (wjobs@bcdha.bc.ca) or Express Scripts Canada at http://provider.express-scripts.ca/documents/Dental/Forms/English/Dental%20Hygienist%20Provider%20Enrolment%20Form.pdf.


Media Contact:

First Nations Health Authority