May 31, 2024 – Ottawa, ON: The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) acknowledges the federal government’s progress over the past year in refining the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) and addressing concerns raised by oral health professionals that will improve access to care for eligible patients across the country. We are optimistic that the remaining significant issues and requests for clarification from dentists will be addressed promptly.

In particular, we are pleased with the government's recent simplification of the Claims Processing and Payment Terms (Billing Agreement). Health Canada's recent commitment to consult with oral health providers and provincial and territorial dental associations (PTDAs) before implementing any future changes to the Billing Agreement is also a significant positive step forward.

However, significant issues remain. Over the past months, CDA and PTDAs have provided Health Canada with expert advice on how to best shape CDCP to make it work for patients and providers. More recently, to ensure that the government clearly understands what the remaining concerns from dentists are, we sent a detailed letter outlining these issues to the Health Minister on May 22. That is why we were surprised to see the Health Minister’s comments in a news report indicating that he does not understand the dental community’s concerns.

Dentists want this program to work for patients, and the path to resolving these concerns is clear. We continue to urge the federal government to take decisive action to address them. Addressing these remaining issues will result in improving access to dental care in Canada for those who need it the most. We stand ready to assist in this process so that the federal government gets it right.

Dentists across Canada have been hesitant to participate in the CDCP due to the lack of clarity around certain elements of the program, as well as concerns around patient privacy. Although we acknowledge and welcome the progress made by the federal government around CDCP, critical areas remain unclear and require further details. CDA, along with PTDAs, have urged the federal government to provide clarity on these issues. This information is crucial for dentists to make informed decisions about participating in the CDCP.

Recent proposed changes by the federal government to patient privacy under the program only partially addresses our concerns regarding patient consent. The current consent language in the CDCP does not explicitly authorize oral health providers to disclose patient information. This lack of direct consent poses risks of privacy complaints and liability, creating barriers to participation in the CDCP. We have requested that Health Canada amend the proposed language to make consent provisions more explicit and we are optimistic that further refinement to the language will be incorporated.

Additionally, there is no information regarding the appeal process for claim verification decisions. Since the CDCP launch, some dentists have reported issues with claim submissions, including denials and requests for additional documentation. Clear instructions on the appeal process for claim verification, including the responsible parties and verification criteria, are essential for oral health providers. Health Canada has committed to providing this information soon and we look forward to receiving it.

Finally, it is important to note that despite the substantial improvement in public communication about the program by the federal government in recent months, there is still a public misconception that the CDCP provides “free dental care.” Clearer communication is still needed about the limitations in coverage, and what patients should reasonably expect to pay for their care. Dental offices have been spending an average of nearly an hour per day explaining the federal government’s program to patients. For our part, we have been encouraging the public to "Know Before You Go" to understand their coverage under the CDCP.

CDA remains committed to advocating for the improvement of oral health for millions of Canadians. We strongly believe that the CDCP represents a unique opportunity to achieve this goal. We appreciate the federal government's dedication to enhancing the plan and look forward to continuing to work with them so that the program works effectively for patients and providers.

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
Spécialiste des relations avec les médias
Canadian Dental Association