Volume 9 • 2022 • Issue 6

Update on Federal Investment in Dental Care On September 22, Dr. Lynn Tomkins, CDA president, addressed the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health as part of its study on children’s health. She outlined recommendations to improve the oral health outcomes of Canadian children. “Poor oral health strains other parts of the health care system, whether throughhospital visits for dental emergencies ormanaging the long-term impacts of poor oral health on systemic disease,” Dr. Tomkins said. “This is particularly the case with children, as good childhood oral health serves as a foundation for the rest of a person’s lifetime.” Other issues CDA raised with the health committee included measures that restrict marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children; the promotion of community water fluoridation; improving access to surgical suites for high needs patients; and the inclusion of oral health in future health research on COVID-19. Dr. Tomkins also reiterated that CDA welcomed the federal government’s commitment in Budget 2022 of a multi-billion dollar ongoing investment, in enhancing Canadians’ access to oral health. CDA supports the federal government on the first phase of its plan, which will allow time to consult and collaborate with dentists and all relevant stakeholders on a long-term solution that is a well-informed, targeted, comprehensive and effective approach to improving access to oral health care. Bill C-31, AnAct respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, includes an interim benefit program that will allow the federal government to provide direct, up-front financial support to families who qualify, while work continues on a longer-term solution. The proposed Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) would provide eligible parents or guardians with up to $650 to cover dental expenses for their children under age 12, helping them better afford some out-of-pocket costs. On October 26, Dr. Tomkins addressed the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance as part of its study of Bill C-31. “While Canada compares favourably to many other countries, too many people—including children—still do not receive the dental care they need,” Dr. Tomkins said. “More than six million Canadians each year avoid visiting the dentist because of the cost; particularly those in low income families. While every province and territory in Canada has some sort of publicly funded dental program for children, these vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, leaving significant gaps.” The target implementation for the CDB is December 1, 2022, if it is passes through the Senate and receives Royal Assent. The CDB would be retroactive for eligible participants to October 1, 2022. Dental offices can expect to see an increase in requests for pediatric visits in 2022 and beyond, and should continue to issue receipts for services rendered. The government is targeting full implementation of a dental care program for households with incomes under $90,000 to be in place by 2025. In late October the federal government launched the next step in a process towards a potential federally delivered Canadian Dental Care Program. Public Services and Procurement Canada invited companies with experience in processing dental claims to apply for pre-qualification to bid on delivering such a program. Health Canada officials suggested that the new program could be similar to other federally managed dental care programs. While Canada compares favourably to many other countries, too many people— including children—still do not receive the dental care they need. More than six million Canadians each year avoid visiting the dentist because of the cost. 9 Issue 6 | 2022 |