Implications of Taxing Employer-Sponsored Health and Dental Benefits

In late 2016, media reports suggested that the federal government was considering eliminating the tax exemption for employer-provided health and dental benefits as part of its overall review of the tax system.

The possibility of this proposed taxation measure sparked immediate concern for many national health professional associations, including CDHA, and others affected. Employer-sponsored health plans provide access to essential health and dental services not covered by provincial plans, including oral health/dental, prescription drugs, vision, mental health services, and musculoskeletal care. For those who lose or do not have supplementary health coverage, getting equivalent coverage privately costs much more. In broad terms, a substantial loss of benefits coverage would drive up utilization and costs in the public health system.

In response, a coordinated advocacy campaign was launched to maintain the tax-free status of employer-provided health care benefits and to warn that reduced access to benefits would harm the health and well-being of millions of Canadians. A website,, was established to allow Canadians to voice their disapproval of this possible new federal tax.

In a press conference, CDHA CEO Ondina Love, and then co-chair of the Organizations for Health Action or HEAL, an organization representing 650,000 health care providers, said “Taking care away from millions of Canadians is certainly not the way to address fairness and equity.”

On February 1, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in the House of Commons that there would be no new taxes on health and dental benefits for Canadians. This statement was confirmed with the release of the 2017 and 2018 federal budgets.

There is a clear public interest in encouraging employers to provide health and dental benefits to their employees. The campaign underscored the importance of affordability and access to much-needed health care on tax policy issues related to group benefits. CDHA was proud to be a part of a successful campaign that raised awareness and collective pressure on this important issue. Learn more below.

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