Lower-income workers across Ontario have lower rates of employer-provided dental insurance, according to a new report by the Toronto Foundation.

In addition, the community foundation found the problem is more pronounced in Toronto. For example, 53 per cent of employees earning under $20,000 annually have workplace dental insurance in the rest of Ontario, while the same is true for only 46 per cent of Toronto residents.

Similarly, only 60 per cent of Toronto residents earning between $20,000 and $40,000 annually have employer-supported dental insurance, compared to 69 per cent in the rest of the province. The report found higher-income earners in the rest of the province are insured at greater rates than higher-income earners in Toronto, but the differences are less pronounced than for low-income workers.

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It also found fewer than half (43 per cent) of self-employed people in Toronto have dental insurance, compared to 76 per cent of employees. As a result, self-employed workers are less likely to report excellent or very good oral health, more likely to avoid the dentist due to cost and more likely to report experiencing pain in their mouth, noted the report.

“The rise in self-employment and the increase in low-paying precarious jobs without insurance are concerning trends for the oral health of Torontonians,” it said. “These problems will likely be exacerbated over the coming years, as employers continue to minimize their costs by reducing benefits and adopting a more casual workforce.”

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