Canada is rolling out its dental care program.

Posted on December 11, 2023 in Health Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – Politics/Federal
December 11, 2023.   By Raisa Patel, Ottawa Bureau

Monday’s announcement fulfills a central promise in the governing agreement between the minority Liberals and the NDP, which could see the New Democrats prop up Justin Trudeau’s government until 2025.  Here’s what you need to know.

OTTAWA—The federal government has announced its plans for a permanent dental insurance program for an expanded list of eligible Canadians, after introducing a temporary plan for low-income youth last year.

The program, called the Canadian Dental Care Plan, will first open up for seniors over the next six months, at which point eligible youth under the age of 18 and people with disabilities will also be able to apply. All other Canadians who meet the criteria can apply starting in 2025.

Monday’s announcement fulfils a central promise in the governing agreement struck between the minority Liberals and the NDP, which could see the New Democrats prop up Justin Trudeau’s government until 2025 in exchange for progress on shared priorities.

This spring’s federal budget earmarked $13 billion over five years to roll out the program, which the government estimates could help up to nine million Canadians.

Here’s what you need to know about whether you qualify and how to apply.

Who can apply for the program?

If you have no access to dental coverage, your family’s net income is less than $90,000, you’re a resident of Canada, and you filed a tax return in the previous year, you qualify for the program.

Not having access to dental insurance means you’re not covered through your employer or a family member’s employer, your pension or a family member’s pension, or a private plan you purchased.

How do I apply?

The program will be phased in, starting with seniors.

Eligible Canadians aged 87 and above can start applying this month. Those aged 77 to 86 can start applying in January 2024, followed by those aged 72 to 76 in February. If you’re between the ages of 70 and 71, you can apply in March.

Those Canadians will receive a letter with application details, which can be done by phone.

Starting in May 2024, applications will move to an online portal, and will open up to seniors aged 65 and up.

In June, anyone with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate, and eligible youth under 18, can also begin applying online. Everyone else meeting the criteria can apply online in 2025.

The country’s oldest seniors can start visiting a dentist under the plan as soon as May 2024, with start dates for other Canadians beginning afterwards as eligible groups are phased in.

Will I have to pay anything?

You may, depending on your family’s annual income.

If your family’s net income is under $70,000, the plan will cover all your fees.

If your family’s net income is between $70,000 and $79,999, you’ll have a 40 per cent co-payment, meaning the plan will cover 60 per cent of your bill. You’ll have a 60 per cent co-payment if your family’s income falls between $80,000 and $89,999.

What’s covered?

Starting next year, oral health providers can enrol to participate in the program. Those providers include dentists, denturists, dental hygienists and dental specialists.

A number of procedures and services are covered under the plan, but they need to be recommended by a provider first.

Preventative services (think cleanings) will be covered, along with restorative services like fillings. Root canals, complete and partial dentures, deeper scaling procedures and some oral surgeries will also be captured by the program.

Health Canada plans to work with province and territories to ensure benefits are co-ordinated.

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