The University of British Columbia has announced that it supporting vulnerable women and children by providing dental care in the new Elizabeth Fry Health Centre. This is a desperately needed intervention, and will help many vulnerable people receive oral healthcare. This partnership will also provide valuable training opportunities for university students.

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The University of British Columbia (UBC) has announced that it is supporting vulnerable women and children in British Columbia by providing dental care in a new specialized health centre [1].

This announcement is positive for many people, with a large number of people across Canada being considered vulnerable.

Moreover, this announcement forms part of UBC’s ongoing efforts to help vulnerable populations, including with their oral health.

Vulnerable women and children

Many people can be considered vulnerable – whether this is through financial or psychological reasons, or if they are escaping an abusive situation.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable in the case of domestic abuse. Across Canada, research shows that 44% of women aged 15 and older have experienced some form of abuse in a relationship [2].

When escaping abusive situations, women often end up bringing their children with them. This can result in them becoming very vulnerable, and can worsen their health.

The province of British Columbia has made longstanding efforts towards helping vulnerable women and children. For example, in 2023, 14 new homes were built for women and children escaping violence in Kamloops [3].

This was as part of an effort to expand support across the province for the vulnerable. As well as general health needs, many need oral health support too.

For instance, one study found that women that had escaped domestic violence typically brushed their teeth less, had a higher chance of teeth missing, and had worse periodontal health compared to those that had not experienced domestic violence [4]. This underlines the need for assistance of vulnerable people, which is where UBC is aiming to assist.

The Elizabeth Fry Health Centre

The UBC’s new Elizabeth Fry (EFry) Health Centre – which opened in January 2023 – will be used to provide the aforementioned dental care [1].

EFry is a large organization in British Columbia which helps more than 3,000 at-risk women and children [1]. They typically provide long-term housing and shelter, but are now branching out into oral health.

In May 2024 an event was held to celebrate the initial opening of the centre. The Executive Director of the EFry Health Services Society – Kathy Marchal – hosted the event, and took it as a chance to inform attendees about the organization [1].

Furthermore, attendees were given a tour of the facilities, and had the chance to ask questions as part of a question-and-answer panel [1]. This served as an opportunity for Marchal to speak about the holistic care approach offered at the centre.

The funding for this project came through UBC, Sinclair Dental, and GreenShield [1]. GreenShield particularly helped – with the non-profit company donating over $300,000 in funding as part of their commitment to support oral health equity [1].

The facilities on offer

This new centre offers one-stop access to holistic, trauma-informed, and culturally safe healthcare [1]. The “trauma-informed” element of this is particularly important, given that many vulnerable people have escaped traumatic or abusive experiences.

The centre integrates various services, including medical and dental care, along with mental health support. The centre features a 5,800-square-foot dental clinic [1].

The centre is able to provide restorative, preventative and emergency oral health services to patients. Therefore, the vulnerable patients will have access to numerous oral health services.

By offering these services to vulnerable patients, it should enable their oral health to improve. This support can help to mitigate any oral health problems which have built up over time.

This clinic will also provide support for dental hygiene students to hone their skills. They will receive their education from UBC, but then be able to put the theory into practice at the actual clinic [1].

Dr. Leeann Donnelly is the Director of Community Engagement at UBC Dentistry. She lauded the opening, saying that the health centre “allows our faculty and students the unique opportunity to experience medical and dental integration” [1].


UBC Dentistry has played a key role in this, with them partnering with EFry over the last 10 years to provide preventive oral healthcare services to vulnerable people.

But now there is a designated health centre with a particular focus on oral healthcare. This will enable support to be provided to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

By also providing training opportunities for UBC students, the centre will also contribute to improving the skills of budding oral health professionals.

Hopefully by providing crucial support, it will enable vulnerable women and children to receive desperately needed oral healthcare, which can aid their overall health and recovery.

Thinking points…

[1] Whenever any of us are going through a difficult situation – whether mentally or physically – it can be easy to neglect our oral health. As a result, some people are reluctant to visit a dentist. Despite this, it is important that you visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. If problems have developed, a dentist will be able to provide advice and support. We recommend that you book a check-up soon!

[2] Domestic violence and abuse is a very sensitive subject. While sharing an article like this to someone directly might not have the desired effect, you could share this article on social media. You never know – someone who might see this article may be desperate for help. You can help by sharing this article now!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At our Calgary dental clinic, we provide a range of services for our patients.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To strengthen your oral health, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Our patients find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

Moreover, the fees of our treatments at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing, with no hidden costs.

We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website!


[1] UBC Dentistry. (2024). UBC Dentistry Provides Dental Care to Vulnerable Women and Children. Available: Last accessed: 20th June 2024.

[2] Tran, C. (2023). Ending Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence in Canada. Available: Last accessed: 20th June 2024.

[3] British Columbia News. (2023). New homes open for vulnerable women, children in Kamloops. Available: Last accessed: 20th June 2024.

[4] Kundu, H., Basavaraj, P., Singla, A., Kote, S., Singh, S., Jain, S., Singh, K., & Vashishtha, V. (2014). Domestic Violence and its Effect on Oral Health Behaviour and Oral Health Status. Journal of Clunical & Diagnostic Research. 8 (11): p9-12. DOI: