The federal government’s 2022 commitment to invest in access to dental care is an historic opportunity to close gaps in oral health care, leading to better oral and overall health for more Canadians. This policy paper provides a roadmap for the federal government to create a sustainable and effective long-term program that will provide high-quality oral health care to those who need it most without negatively impacting the current oral health care system, including employer-provided benefits, on which most Canadians rely for their dental care.
Currently, Canadians with dental coverage enjoy flexibility in choice of dentists, minimal wait times and high-quality dental care with few limitations. Government policies that could potentially impact employer-provided dental benefits must be carefully considered because they risk having significant consequences throughout the Canadian economy.
A recent poll of Canadians has indicated that 78% support federal investment in dental care, however support falls to 39% when respondents consider the idea that it might impact existing employer-provided dental benefits. Also, 70% of Canadians with employer-provided benefits would be unable to or would not be able to easily afford dental care if those benefits were lost.1
With today’s demographic and economic challenges, an effective and equitable oral health care system in Canada is one that has a modern and efficient private insurance sector as its essential core, with the addition of a well designed and funded public sector component for people who need extra support.
While a lack of dental benefits coverage creates a barrier to care for some Canadians, there are many non-financial barriers that also make it challenging to access dental care. CDA believes that the federal government should develop a comprehensive federal oral health strategy that addresses a broader set of challenges facing Canadians’ oral health.