May 1, 2024 – Ottawa, ON: Today, the federal government officially launched the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP). This represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly improve the oral and overall health of millions of Canadian residents who do not have access to dental care. Starting today, the first cohort of eligible patients can start receiving care in dental offices.

“Dentists across the country believe in the intent of this federal program, and we acknowledge the progress that has been made by the government in improving the CDCP thus far, but significant gaps remain to adequately address the needs of patients and dentists,” says Dr. Joel Antel, Canadian Dental Association (CDA) President. “CDA is committed to working with the federal government to improve the CDCP because every person living in Canada deserves the best oral health care possible.”

CDA has focused on providing technical advice to the federal government since the beginning of the CDCP’s development. In February 2023, CDA published a policy paper— Bridging the Financial Gap in Dental Care—recommending that the CDCP function like any other dental plan, allowing patients to choose their own dentist, and not disrupt Canada’s existing oral health care system.

Over the past several months, CDA and Provincial and Territorial Dental Associations (PTDAs) have expressed the concerns of dentists to the federal government. A recent survey of 4,000 dentists across Canada shows that 61% would not participate in the program in its current state. The support of oral health care providers is crucial to the success of the CDCP to ensure that patients signing up for the program will be able to find an eligible dentist.

“We want this program to work like other dental plans, and we are addressing areas of concern with the federal government,” says Dr. Aaron Burry, Chief Executive Officer of CDA. “We are worried about the public’s expectation about the program. The CDCP in its current state does not provide free dental care, but many Canadians may be under the impression that it does. Further, the initial service schedule launching today gives people some level of access for the care they need, but not all. Some patients may still need to wait until later in the Fall for services requiring preauthorization,” adds Dr. Burry.

In its current form, the CDCP requires dentists to receive approvals or send pre-authorizations for many types of treatments, which should never be a part of providing medically necessary care.

CDA commends the federal government for increasing access to care through the CDCP, but more information is needed about the terms and conditions that dentists need to agree to, the coordination of benefits with provincial programs, and what level of services will be preauthorized to meet patient needs.

While we recognize the federal government’s efforts to improve access to care, CDA and the PTDAs seek a CDCP that includes comprehensive oral health care services and barrier-free treatments. With dentists from coast-to-coast-to-coast, CDA will continue to advance this objective for the benefit of Canadians.

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 practicing dentists from coast to coast to coast.

Media Contact:
Jeff D’Andrea
Media Relations Specialist
Canadian Dental Association