TORONTO — Canadians who identify as Muslim are increasingly showing support for a small but growing community in Canada, with more than half of Torontonian Muslims saying they have a single muslam dentist, according to a survey by the Canadian Association of Muslim Associations.
Muslims make up just over 15% of the overall population, but account for almost half of the nation’s dentists, dentists’ assistants and dental assistants.
The association’s annual Muslim Health Survey, which is funded by the federal government and has been conducted since 2012, found that the community is far more supportive of dental health services than their non-Muslim counterparts, with just over half of Muslims saying that they support dental services that offer dental care to all Canadians, regardless of religion.
The survey found that about 25% of Muslims in Ontario support universal dental care.
“It’s a very strong Muslim community in Toronto.
We have very strong support for universal dental health care,” said Dr. Rana Ali, a professor of dentistry at the University of Toronto.
“It’s the second-largest Muslim community and it’s growing.”
The survey also found that Muslim women are more likely to have dental care at home, with 44% saying they would support dental care for all Canadians regardless of their religion.
This compares to a Muslim man who would support universal care only for Muslims, while just 15% said the same for a non-muslim man.
“In many ways it’s the same situation we’re in in the United States with the dental care,” Ali said.
“People feel they are underpaid.
People feel they can’t afford to get the care they need.”
Dr. Naseem Azeem, a Toronto dentist who has served as president of the Association of Muslims for the Advancement of Dentistry, said that his association’s surveys have consistently shown a growing Muslim community support for dental care, which includes a wide range of health-related services.
The survey found a majority of Muslims (56%) in Ontario say that they have dental coverage, while about 15% say they have no dental coverage.
“When I’m looking at the dental services in Canada we have one that’s universal, but that’s not universal everywhere,” Azeel said.
The Association of Canadian Muslims for Health and Dentistry said that its membership has grown from around 500 members in 2010 to nearly 1,200 today.
It has more than 2,000 members across Canada.
“I think the big picture is that Muslims are becoming a very important part of the dental workforce,” Ali added.
“We see the trend in dentistry, but it’s really just one component.”
Ali said that when he started practicing dentistry in 2005, there was a lack of dental care in the community.
Now, the number of dental clinics is growing as more dentists have left the profession.
Ali said the association’s research shows that the Muslim community is also willing to work with the government on dental issues, such as ensuring that dental health and dental care are covered by health insurance.
“If there is a crisis, a problem, the government should be a partner, not a enemy,” Ali noted.
“I think that the government needs to take the lead in ensuring that people have access to dental care.”