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Green Shield Canada

Green Shield Canada’s remarkable track record of support for community health initiatives includes generous investment in breakthrough research at U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry.

University of Toronto alumnus William (Bill) Wilkinson (BPharm 1931) was working as a pharmacist in Windsor, Ontario, when he decided there had to be a way to help his patients who struggled to afford medication. In 1957, he founded the nation’s first prepaid health plan, and helped connect Canadians with the medications they needed. That notion was the impetus for the creation of a new organization.

Now called Green Shield Canada (GSC), the innovative firm is Canada’s only nation-wide, not-for-profit health benefits company, and has grown to offer a full range of health benefits plans that cover expenses above and beyond what is provided under provincial health care. It continues its founding legacy by investing its profits across the country, with a focus on positively impacting the health of communities, and, in particular, on filling the gaps in access to essential health-care services.

In keeping with this commitment, GSC made two generous donations, totaling $6.2 million, to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry in 2019. The gifts launched a research fund with a focus on supporting the University’s groundbreaking work in the area of dental public health, and support for the establishment of a new two-chair dental clinic at the faculty, where a dental team will offer no-cost treatments to people experiencing financial barriers to dental care.

The research GSC is supporting seeks to generate the evidence base for policies that will advance equitable access to dental care. The data gathered from the clinic space will aid in determining the individual, family, health-care system and societal impacts of dental care.

U of T scholars are known for important research in dental public health. For example, Dr. Carlos Quiñonez and his research team, who are spearheading the studies supported by the GSC fund, are recognized in Canada and around the world for their research on oral health care policy, access to dental care, and related issues around health and social equity.

By making efforts like these possible, GSC’s visionary support for dental care and related research will play an important role in helping governments and private businesses like theirs to make evidence-informed decisions about how best to prioritize and promote dental care within the broader Canadian health-care system.