Canada will soon have its first form of national dental coverage, now that legislation establishing a benefit program for children under 12 has been passed.
On Thursday, the dental insurance bill for low-income families — known as Bill C-31 — received royal assent and became law.
Advanced alongside a benefit for low-income tenantsdental insurance was an initiative prompted by an agreement between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
The government has set a “target date” of December 1 to open the scheme to applications.
Before that, here is exactly what the “Canadian Dental Benefit” includes and how it will work.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
For now, the benefit will be available to children under 12, whose annual family income is less than $90,000.
According to the government, this benefit would provide payments of up to $650 per child per year, depending on family income.
- $650 would be paid per child if the adjusted family net income is less than $70,000;
- $390 would be paid per child if the adjusted family net income is between $70,000 and $79,999; and
- $260 would be paid per child if the adjusted family net income is between $80,000 and $89,999.
The amount offered is the government’s “best calibration” of the amount of funding needed to cover basic dental care – exams, cleanings, X-rays and fillings – with little left over, according to government officials who briefed officials. program journalists in September. .
If the parents have excess funds, the hope is that they would be spent on other dental care needs, but there will be no need to repay the overdue funds.
The program would cover expenses retroactively to October 1, 2022.
The Liberals estimate that 500,000 Canadian children would be eligible to have some of their dental care covered by this plan and promise that receiving this benefit will not reduce any pre-existing federal income-tested benefits, such as the Canada child benefit.
HOW WILL IT WORK?
The first phase of dental care will provide eligible parents or guardians with “direct, upfront, tax-free payments to cover dental costs.” However, to access the benefit, parents or guardians must submit an application to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and certify that:
- Their child does not have access to private dental coverage;
- They will be responsible for dental care costs for which they will use the benefit; and
- They understand that they will be required to provide receipts to verify disbursements made if necessary.
Applicants can apply for this financial support prior to appointments, but will need to provide proof of eligibility such as dental service provider contact information, date of appointment, and information about their employer and their spouse or partner regarding their benefits coverage. .
The now-passed bill sets up a process for bureaucrats to verify that information, and there could be penalties for those who submit fraudulent claims.
“Health Canada and the CRA are working closely together on an application platform that would provide timely payments. Further details on how and when to claim the benefit will be communicated in due course,” the government said in a statement when the plan was first detailed.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
The bill implementing this certificate-based plan as well as a tenant benefit was one of two affordability-focused bills the Liberals introduced the first day of the fall sitting September 20.
Bill C-31 passed the House of Commons and was sent to the Senate on October 27, with the support of the NDP.
Making a dental plan a reality was one of the key commitments in the Liberal-NDP confidence and supply agreement. This first step allowed the Liberals to fulfill their commitment to ensure that eligible children under 12 receive the dental care they need, before the end of 2022.
The The Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois voted against the plan to enact dental and rental benefits.
“Families have to decide whether to pay for their children’s dental care or pay their bills. No one should have to deal with the pain or lifelong damage of not having dental care,” Singh said in a statement. communicated. “Families will soon be able to apply to have their children’s teeth repaired. And this is just the first step, we will continue to fight to ensure that all Canadians can access comprehensive dental care through our health care system.
While only those under the age of 12 will have first access, the government says it remains committed to ensuring that this interim measure becomes a fully-fledged national dental scheme.
The Liberals promised the program would extend to under-18s, seniors and people with disabilities in 2023.
By 2025, it would be available to all Canadian families with an annual income of less than $90,000, with no co-payment for anyone earning less than $70,000 annually.
In the 2022 federal budget, the federal government $5.3 billion over five years then $1.7 billion underway for Health Canada to oversee the implementation of the dental plan.