As a nation widely known for its commitment to universal healthcare, Canada has reached a major milestone by finally including dental care as part of its federally funded public healthcare system.
According to reports, the 2023 budget will deliver a “transformative investment” to provide dental care to Canadians with $13 billion over five years and $4.4 billion ongoing. The news is especially celebrated by long-time advocates of oral health in Canada, who have campaigned for increased federal investment in dental care to ensure that all Canadians can enjoy the benefits of good oral health.
Complete health care includes oral health care.
Oral health is a vital part of general health and well-being. As a gateway to the rest of your body, the health of your mouth has a strong connection to your overall wellness by either preventing other health conditions or revealing early signs of disease. Canada’s decision to include dental care as a part of its universal healthcare system reflects the importance of good oral healthcare for a flourishing society.
Treating dental care as a basic necessity.
When Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the new Canadian Dental Care Plan as part of the government’s 2023 Budget, she made it clear that Canadians should not have to choose between paying their monthly bills and taking care of their oral health. The plan is set to roll out by the end of 2023 and is poised to help up to nine million Canadians with affordability and access to quality dental care. Health Canada will partner with a third-party benefits administrator to provide dental coverage for uninsured Canadians with an annual family income of less than $90,000, with no co-pays for families earning less than $70,000. Eligibility will begin with uninsured Canadians under 18, people with disabilities, and seniors by the end of 2023, with the remainder of eligible Canadians to be covered by 2025.
In the meantime, a temporary benefit for kids.
While the new Dental Care Plan details are being ironed out, the government has temporarily implemented the Canada Dental Benefit to provide parents or guardians with direct, tax-free payments to cover dental expenses for children under 12. The Dental Benefit – which was approved in December 2022 – currently provides payments of up to $650 per child per year for uninsured families with annual incomes less than $90,000. It is estimated that 500,000 Canadian children will benefit from this targeted investment in dental care. When the new Dental Care Plan is fully implemented, these children and their adult family members will benefit from ongoing qualitative oral health care.
Access to dental care for all Canadians.
In addition to addressing the affordability factor of dental care, Minister Freeland also announced plans to establish an Oral Health Access Fund, which will complement the Canadian Dental Care Plan and focus on reducing barriers to accessing oral health care. This fund will focus on the unique difficulties vulnerable populations and those in rural and remote communities face. The goal is to make good oral health achievable for all Canadians.
Reporting employer-provided dental benefits.
One stipulation of the new Dental Care Plan that has been pre-emptively disclosed involves those Canadians who receive dental coverage as an employment benefit. It is expected that employers will be required to report dental coverage benefits offered to employees and plan members through T4/T4A Income Tax reporting. This measure would ensure that the new Dental Care Plan is limited to uninsured Canadians with unmet oral health care needs.
Since minimal details about the logistics and practicalities of Canada’s new Dental Care Plan have been shared thus far, it is still unknown how this will affect companies who offer a healthcare spending account or am employee benefits plan, or whether dental coverage will become a taxable benefit. With the government slated to share more details as the plan takes shape, we can expect more answers to these questions in the coming months.
Keep an eye on the Orchard Benefits Blog as we follow the development of Canada’s new Dental Care Plan.