Volume 9 • 2022 • Issue 6

Abacus Survey Gauges Public Opinion on Federal Dental Care After more than two years of public opinion surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on dentistry, CDA and Abacus Data looked at opinions and behavioural trends on broader issues affecting dentistry in Canada, namely the federal investment in access to dental care. Following announcements of increased federal funding for dental care for children under age 12 in low-income families, Abacus Data’s Wave 11 survey showed a strong public awareness of the proposed federal program. Much of this survey, conducted in August 2022, explored Canadians’ views on a federal dental care program and how it would affect their own dental care preferences. The following article includes some key takeaways from theWave 11 survey. Is cost a factor in seeking dental care? If 6% of respondents declare themselves as “dental phobic,” the main reason for not going to the dentist remains the cost, which is still the primary driver of dental absenteeism. A little over half of the population (53%) who haven’t visited the dentist recently consider the cost too high to seek dental care. Do Canadians support a federal dental plan? A large majority of Canadians (78%), across all political parties, support a proposed program coverage for families with <$90,000 household income and no other forms of health insurance. Support only drops when there’s a suggestion that employer-sponsored benefits might be affected, with most then saying they are neutral or their support depends on the specifics of the program. In either case, total opposition to a federal program is only the view of 1 in 10 respondents. “I believe that those who have sufficient coverage and aren’t feeling the financial pressures also recognize that oral health is important, and that every Canadian should be able to access it,” says David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data. “So there is a real alignment in public opinion around action on this from the federal government’s perspective.” Do Canadians consider a federal dental plan a priority? Dental care was identified as the most important issue for the federal government by about 1 in 3 Canadians (31%) and a large majority support the federal intervention. They even consider it a higher priority than pharmacare or childcare, and some Canadians would even consider it a priority over a more general increase in health transfers to the provinces. CONTINUEDP. 12 11 Issue 6 | 2022 | News and Events