September 13, 2022 – Ottawa, ON: Today, the federal government announced phase-one of its plan to enhance access to dental care for Canadians. Households earning less than $90,000 will receive up to $650 to help pay for dental visits by children under age 12. The proposed funding was originally announced in Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable, and is part of a Confidence and Supply Agreement between the federal Liberals and NDP.
Allocating additional funding to enhance access to dental care for underserved Canadians echoes the long-standing recommendations of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).
“We applaud the federal government’s decision to provide additional financial support to enhance access to dental care for children under age 12,” says Dr. Tomkins, CDA President. “We are also pleased to see that the government is taking a phased approach to this complex issue, which will allow time to consult and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders on a long-term solution. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a big difference for the oral health of millions of Canadians, and it is imperative that we all work together and get this right.”
As the federal government moves forward with the design and delivery of a permanent program, it should ensure that any new initiatives do not disrupt access to dental care for the large majority of Canadians who already have dental coverage through employer-provided health benefits.
Last month, CDA published a What We Heard Report, which summarizes feedback from dentists and other oral health stakeholders on the federal government’s proposed approach. This will be followed by the release of a policy framework later this fall.
“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the federal government to enhance access to dental care for Canadians,” adds Dr. Tomkins. “We’re happy to see the federal government moving forward with its commitment to improve the oral and overall health of Canadians, and to help narrow the gaps in access to dental care that some Canadians face.”
CDA works diligently to ensure that oral health remains a recognizable and significant public health issue, and informs key decision-makers about matters that directly impact dentistry and the oral health of the Canadian population. Learn more about CDA’s advocacy efforts.
About the Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for dentistry dedicated to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health, and to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession. CDA, a non-regulatory authority, is a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization whose corporate members are Canada's provincial and territorial dental associations (PTDAs). CDA represents over 21,000 practising dentists from coast to coast to coast.
- CDA What We Heard Report – On August 30, 2022, CDA released its What We Heard Report, which summarizes feedback from dentists and other oral health stakeholders from across Canada on the federal government’s proposed investments in enhancing access to dental care for Canadians, as was tabled in Budget 2022.
- Dentists and dental offices: There are approximately 25,500 licensed dentists in Canada, operating out of roughly 16,000 dental offices in Canada. That works out to about 65 dentists for every 100,000 Canadians. This ratio has approximately doubled since the 1960s.
- Dental benefits: More than two-thirds (67%) of Canadians report having dental benefits that cover all or part of their dental treatments; roughly 50% of Canadians have employer-provided dental benefits.
- Visiting the dentist: Canadians with health benefits are more likely to visit a dentist (82%) than those without (60%). Regardless of coverage, Canadians with lower household income were less likely to go to a dentist than those in higher income households.
- Dental utilization: Approximately 75% of Canadians saw a dental professional on an annual basis in 2018, one of the highest rates globally among comparable countries.
- Dental expenditures in Canada: In 2019, a total of $16.4 billion was spent on dental care in Canada, with roughly 94% coming from the private sector. This works out to $437 per capita. Overall, this accounts for 6.4% of Canada’s overall health care expenses.
- Public dental care programs: Although public dental care programs exist across Canada, they vary from province to province, and are exclusively funded by provincial and territorial governments. The federal government’s support for dental care is limited to the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program for eligible First Nations and Inuit people, as well as some support for hospital-based, surgical-dental services through the Canada Health Transfer.
Head of Communications
Canadian Dental Association