The Health Insider is always happy to celebrate news of additional coverage for medical expenses. While the idea of socialized medicine in Canada has always been to cover basic and necessary medical services, we could never understand why dental care, so important in one’s overall health picture, hasn’t been covered by medicare. Bad dental hygiene is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and more. The good news is that that’s about to change.
The Government of Canada (GOC) announced the details of the much-anticipated roll-out of the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP). The GOC is investing $13 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion ongoing, to provide dental coverage to uninsured Canadians.
The intention of the program is to help ease financial barriers to accessing oral health care for up to nine million uninsured Canadian residents with an annual family income of less than $90,000.
Oral health is an important part of our overall health and well-being. Regular visits to an oral health professional have been proven to reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Yet a third of the people living in Canada do not have dental insurance, and in 2022, one in four Canadians reported avoiding visiting an oral health professional because of the cost.
First Phase of Rollout Focusing on People 70+
The CDCP will be rolled out using a phased approach over the coming months, starting with older adults. Applications will first open for people aged 87 and above in December 2023, expanding in phases to those aged 77 to 86 in January 2024, followed by those aged 72 to 76 in February 2024, then those aged 70 to 71 in March 2024.
Individuals in these age groups who may be eligible will receive letters inviting them to apply, with instructions on how to validate their eligibility and apply by telephone.
“Dental care shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s basic health care. Seniors are often on fixed incomes and have more health care bills, so they’re a priority in our dental plan. We want every Canadian to age in health, in comfort, and in dignity.” The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour and Seniors
How to Apply
In May 2024, applications will shift to an online portal and will open for eligible people 65 and older. Persons with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and children under the age of 18 will be able to apply online starting June 2024. All remaining eligible Canadian residents between the ages of 18 and 64 will be able to apply online starting in 2025.
Canadians who are enrolled in the CDCP will be able to start seeing an oral health provider as early as May 2024, starting with people 65+. The start date to access oral health care will vary based on when each group can apply, when the application is received and when enrolment is completed.
This coverage start date, details of coverage, and member card will be sent by Sun Life, the contracted service provider, in a welcome package.
The Canada Dental Benefit will continue to support families with children under the age of 12 until June 30, 2024. Parents and caregivers will be able to apply for the CDCP for children under the age of 18 as of June 2024.
What is Covered?
A wide range of oral health care services will be covered under the CDCP to prevent and treat oral health disease. Examples of these services include preventive care such as scaling (cleaning), polishing, as well as other services such as exams, x-rays, fillings, removable dentures, and root canal treatments.
As part of a continuous improvement approach, the CDCP will be reviewed regularly based on data and evidence to ensure it meets the needs of Canadians.
For more information on the CDCP, eligibility, the phased application roll-out and examples of what will be covered, visit Canada.ca/dental.