If free dental care is ever made available to all Canadians under the age of 18, they may have Strahinja Nesic to thank for it.

After all, it was his submission to Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar’s 2010 Create Your Canada contest that would have started it all.

“All youth and children should have the same coverage,” said the Grade 9 student from Nepean High School. “Even if they are in a low-income family, they deserve to be treated the same.”

The contest was intended to engage high school students very directly in the process of developing federal legislation.

Dewar said there were many good submissions relating to education, immigration, climate change and health care, but Nesic’s submission stood out for the level of depth he included in terms of how dental care can act as preventative medicine.

Poor dental hygiene can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses, said Nesic.

Last week, Dewar tabled a motion calling on the federal government to work with the provinces to set up a national dental program. A private member’s bill would likely follow later this year.

“If it works, then I’ll feel good because I had something to do with it,” said Nesic.

Nesic said it should be put in place as soon as possible but 2016 at the latest to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of universal health care in Canada.

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