FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government will expand its Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision program to provide free eye exams and corrective glasses for all four-year-olds who are not covered by a public or private health insurance program.

“Providing quality health care for New Brunswickers of all ages is a priority for your government,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “By making this program universal, we will ensure that all four-year-olds have access to eye exams and corrective glasses prior to starting school.”

The government will also pay the deductible for those with existing health insurance. The expanded program will be available beginning April 1, 2018.

“Your government wants to ensure that New Brunswick children are given each and every opportunity to excel as early as possible,” said Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman. “By expanding this program to cover all four-year-olds in the province, we are giving more New Brunswick children the tools they need to succeed and reach their full potential.”

The New Brunswick Association of Optometrists recommends that a child have at least one eye examination before starting school so that any visual issues, developmental or otherwise, can be detected and treated.

“The New Brunswick Association of Optometrists strongly supports the expansion of the Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision program,” said association president Amy Robinson. “By helping to ensure that the children of New Brunswick have eye examinations before starting school, our province is giving them a solid foundation to learn.”

The efforts announced today complement the goals outlined in the government’s 10-year education plans which aim to improve educational outcomes and better prepare young people for the future. They set objectives in priority areas to create inclusive environments in which all students can become lifelong learners.