NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said it was ‘ridiculous’ for Tory MPs to vote against a proposed dental benefit for children from low-income families when they can get much more comprehensive dental care for their children. own family.
“Tory MPs plan to vote against children’s dental care when their leader has had publicly paid dental care for almost two decades,” Singh said Wednesday, referring to Pierre Poilievre, who has been an MP since 2004.
The Conservatives announced that they would reject Bill C-31, which would provide a benefit of up to $650 per child under 12 in families earning less than $90,000. Last week, the party attempted to pass a motion in the House of Commons that would overturn the law.
According to Singh, the benefit is meant to be a first step toward a broader national dental program, which the NDP has demanded as a condition of keeping the Liberal government in power until 2025. He predicted that by the end of next year, the program would be expanded to include seniors, under-18s and people with disabilities.
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Unlike the benefits provided, MPs of all parties are automatically enrolled in the Public Service Dental Care Plan, which provides 90% coverage for basic dental services, up to $2,500 per family member per year. year.
The plan, which also covers federal government employees and members of the RCMP, provides an additional 50% coverage for orthodontics up to a lifetime maximum of $2,500 per family member.
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Members’ dental insurance premiums are paid by the House of Commons.
Rather than launching a new program, the Conservatives say the government should instead focus on reducing the overall cost of living by reducing payroll deductions and the carbon tax. They also say the bill is an unwelcome intrusion into provincial and territorial jurisdiction over health care delivery.
“This is not a dental care program and the federal government should not provide services without consulting the provinces,” Conservative health critic Michael Barrett said Wednesday. He said the government should focus on making longer-term health funding available to the provinces rather than launching their own dental program.
Barrett points out that most provinces and territories already provide dental care for children from low-income families.
The maximum allowable income for most provincial plans is much lower than the proposed federal plan. And provincial programs do not cover the full range of benefits enjoyed by MPs and their families under the civil service roll.
In Ontario, the Healthy Smiles program provides coverage for children under age 17, but for a family with two children, eligibility is limited to those with an annual income of less than $26,817.
In between are working parents who do not have private dental insurance through their jobs and are not eligible for public plans because their income exceeds the threshold.
“A lot of people are just above that income level, so they don’t qualify for these programs, but their family income is still too low to make ends meet, let alone dental care,” the dentist said. of Ottawa Shahrouz Yazdani.
Reimbursement rates for dentists who provide services under Ontario’s plan are so low that some can’t afford to take on patients, Yazdani said.
“Our office accepts them, but we can only do it a limited number of times a month because it’s not financially viable.”
Quebec offers dental coverage for children under 10, while Alberta offers means-tested dental coverage for children with limits set under C-31.
The proposed federal dental benefit differs from traditional private insurance because eligible families do not need to provide a receipt and only need to sign a certificate to receive the $650 payment.