» Go to news main

GreenShield gift: A celebration of a shared vision

Posted by Cheryl Bell on June 27, 2023 in News
Representatives from GreenShield and the Faculty of Dentistry announce a new $500,000 gift. (Bruce Bottomley photos)

On May 17, the Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry announced a new $500,000 gift from GreenShield that will enable the Faculty to provide more oral health care services to those who need them most in the Halifax area. This latest gift, which was made through GreenShield’s social impact program, GreenShield Cares, brings its total giving to the Faculty to nearly $1 million.

This announcement builds on an existing partnership between the Faculty of Dentistry and GreenShield, which began in 2017 with the first grant of $250,000 to support oral health care for priority populations. A second grant of $200,000 followed in 2019.

GreenShield president and CEO Zahid Salman (left) and Dr. Ben Davis, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry (right) tour the clinic.  

A longstanding partnership
"It is an honour to be here on behalf of GreenShield as we celebrate the combined efforts of GreenShield and Dalhousie University to improve oral health outcomes for Canadians," said GreenShield president and CEO Zahid Salman.

Both GreenShield and the Faculty share a vision and a belief that oral health is health and that everyone in our communities should access to oral health care.

"Outreach is central to Dalhousie’s role as a teaching institution and its commitment to being a civic university," said Dr. Ben Davis, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, as he announced the gift, adding that it was a great pleasure to work with an organization like GreenShield, which "understands how vital oral health is to overall health and is striving – like us – to fill this gap in the Canadian health-care system".

The donation will directly benefit those who struggle to access and afford oral health care, he said, and it will enrich the education of the Faculty’s students who will gain experience in treating more complex cases, better understand the social determinants of health, and increase their cultural competence.

"Make no mistake," said Davis, "donations such as the one from GreenShield Cares positively impact the professional careers of our students. Our alumni tell us this." 

One in five Canadians currently avoids trips to the dentist because of cost and more than 30% do not have insurance coverage for dental care. These uninsured Canadians are twice as likely to have poor oral health, a strong determinant of poor overall health.

Putting the grant to work for patients
"Through this contribution," said Salman, "we’ve learned that over 1000 people in Nova Scotia will receive access to dental care that they would have otherwise gone without. Most importantly, this care will benefit communities that been historically underserved."

The Faculty of Dentistry will use the new funding to work with its community-based partners, including the North End Community Health Centre, Immigrant Services of Nova Scotia, Phoenix House Youth, Nelson Whynder Elementary School in North Preston, and Camp Hill Veterans Services Long Term Care, to cover the cost of more treatments for those in priority populations and to make the treatments more accessible to those who need them most.

Associate professor and GreenShield project co-lead Shauna Hachey

"Thanks to GreenShield’s previous support we know what an impact a navigator can make," said Shauna Hachey, an associate professor in the School of Dental Hygiene and the GreenShield project co-lead. "This new gift will enable us to continue to provide support services and break down barriers such as cost of care, transportation, and language interpretation services."

Oral health care is vital for the overall health and functioning of individuals and the communities in which we work and live, added Hachey. It is difficult for people to fully participate in society – to receive education, to work, to volunteer, and to socialize – if they have difficulties sleeping, eating, speaking, and smiling because of oral pain and disease.

Davis expressed the Faculty’s gratitude to GreenShield for its vision and ongoing support, saying that it helped our patients, students, and communities.

Patient impact
Anna Quon (photo below), a writer and a filmmaker and one of the Faculty’s patient partners on the GreenShield project, spoke of the mental anxiety of neglecting her dental care for 20 years because of the cost and then having the opportunity to get hygiene, fillings, and extractions for free at the North End Community Health Centre, where she is now a patient.

"I know from personal experience the difference oral health care can make in a life," she told the audience. "These critical services can help more people not only improve their mental and physical health, but in a society that judges us on appearance, also help us to feel better about ourselves, get jobs and education, and to smile more."