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Advocacy in Action • September 27, 2022

 

New Federal
Dental Care Program

This special issue of Advocacy in Action shares the latest information on the federal dental care program and highlights CDHA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the dental hygiene profession and the estimated 7 to 9 million Canadians who will soon be eligible for coverage. Improving access to oral care for vulnerable populations has been a longstanding priority for CDHA, and we are delighted that our message is being heard. As we anticipate the launch of the new program, we believe that there will be a real opportunity for dental hygienists to offer their preventive and therapeutic services to more Canadians who need oral care. Watch for updates in CDHA Connect (our biweekly digital newsletter) and on our website.


What We Know
About the Program

The federal dental care program for low-income Canadians will be offered to children under age 12 in 2022, and then expand to under-18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with a disability in 2023. Full implementation will occur in 2025. Although the federal budget proposed funding of $5.3 billion over five years, starting in 2022–2023, and $1.7 billion ongoing to Health Canada, the parliamentary budget officer reported in June that the cost of the program could be closer to $9 billion. On September 13, Trudeau unveiled the Canada Dental Benefit for families with children under 12 and a combined income of less than $90,000 who do not have access to dental insurance or provincially funded programs. Legislation to enact this benefit (Bill C-31) was introduced on September 20, and CDHA was thrilled to see dental hygienists named specifically as service providers in the text. A big advocacy win for the profession! CDHA will follow the legislative process closely as the bill goes through the necessary stages for it to become law.


Ongoing Advocacy Efforts

As the collective national voice of dental hygienists, CDHA has met with policy makers at Health Canada, the federal ministers of health and finance, the NDP health critic, and others to discuss the design and implementation of the new federal plan. In addition, CDHA participated in an April press conference with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and in a virtual roundtable convened in June by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health.

CDHA Task Force Engaged

To build our advocacy response to the new federal plan, Chief Executive Officer Ondina Love and Director of Dental Hygiene Practice Sylvie Martel assembled a panel of practising dental hygienists from across Canada with experience in working with publicly funded dental programs. This task force held its first meeting in April and is expected to continue its work until the full implementation of the program in 2025. Currently, the task force is focusing on recommendations for what types of services should be covered under this new program.


Government Planning
and Consultations

Though details about the government’s planning, procurement, and start-up phases have not been released, we know that Health Canada and other government partners have been working together to develop advice and explore different models for the design and delivery of the new dental care program. The federal government has sought guidance from industry, provincial and territorial partners, and others to inform their decisions on how to fulfill the commitment to reduce cost barriers for low-income Canadians in need of oral health care.


CDHA President Calls for Prevention-Oriented Oral Care

In a letter to the editor published on September 4 in the Toronto Sun, CDHA President Wendy Stewart explained why expanding existing provincial dental care programs will not be sufficient to address the critical oral care needs of low-income Canadians. While praising the potential of a federally administered program to ensure an equitable standard of care across the country, Stewart urged decision makers to recognize Canada’s 30,000+ dental hygienists as eligible oral care providers under the plan. CDHA’s position has been highlighted in articles published in several media outlets.


Looking for More?

Visit the advocacy section of CDHA’s website to read our most recent government submissions and media statements articulating our position and key messages for policy and public audiences in government, Parliament, and the broader oral health system.

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