Understanding the Implications of the New Federal Dental Subsidy Program

by Dr. James Younger

Federal Dental Subsidy Program
iStock

The new Liberal-NDP agreement suggests implementing a national dental care program for low-income Canadians. Such a program could result in the most considerable augmentation of the nation’s public healthcare system in decades. The new “supply-and-confidence” agreement between the Liberals and NDP incorporates a commitment to implementing a sustainable dentistry program. Instead of acting solely on NDP concerns, the deal calls for the New Democrats to assist the minority Liberal government on confidence votes until 2025.

During Jagmeet Singh’s election as party leader, the NDP campaigned on the idea of a national dental care plan. Previous Liberal administrations never pursued a program like this, which is why no change to dental offices was seen under previous leadership. NDP Leader Singh said it’s an issue of dignity, one which will tremendously impact people’s health and quality of life.

This article discusses the details we know about the dental plan, including how it would operate, how much it would cost, and the potential impact it would have on the approximately 6.5 million Canadians who do not currently have dental coverage.

Dental Subsidy Program Can Create More Opportunities

The federal dental subsidy program has benefits not only for the patients but also for the dental professionals involved in the process. According to the government, families with annual salaries of less than $90,000 that do not have dental insurance would qualify for coverage under the program. Families or individuals generating less than $70,000 per year would be exempt from co-payments, and dental bills would be reimbursed in full by the government.

By implementing these strategies, more people will be able to access dental services. An increased number of patients will also increase the need for dental teams to serve the patients, including dentists, dental temps, dental hygienists, and other dental professionals. Research suggests that a significant number of Canadians, including children and adults, still don’t opt for regular dental checkups due to the treatment costs. People may only visit dental offices if they are experiencing severe discomfort or pain. However, regular checkups are still not on the checklist for many Canadians.

The financial support for oral healthcare laid out in the program will ensure dental practitioners will experience a surge in the number of appointments, generating extensive employment opportunities for dental professionals like dentists and dental temps.

The initiative is anticipated to benefit roughly 6.5 million Canadians. In light of demographic fluctuations, growing labor, and current economic conditions, this figure is predicted to drop slightly to 6.3 million by 2025.

The Program Will Also Serve As A Case Study

Some experts have also pointed out that the program can greatly benefit public health students and dental professionals during their clinical training. Though clinical training focuses on teaching functional and practical applications, the program can help dentists understand the determinants of oral health problems and how barriers to oral healthcare can be resolved across various levels.

Experts further point out that if the funding flows into the provinces and territories, dental offices can also improve their infrastructure and available facilities.

The program can also significantly impact elderly citizens who lack insurance and cannot afford dental care. Older individuals need regular and affordable access to dental care, as oral health can decline with age. Canadian seniors who do not have dental coverage frequently visit hospital emergency rooms instead. Under the new program directives, dental teams across the country can better learn to work with elderly patients and adapt their practices to accommodate the demand.

Way Forward

The strategy will be implemented incrementally three years before the Liberal-NDP pact ends in 2025. Children under the age of 12 would be able to access the program beginning later this year, with 18-year-olds, retirees, and disabled individuals achieving access sometime in 2023. The suggested timeframe calls for the operation to be finalized by 2025, giving dental offices time to hire suitable dental temps and implement successful changes to their existing policies.

Although prior NDP dentistry initiatives have already been assessed and budgeted, the federal budget may offer support as soon as early April next year. Based on a 2020 study by the Parliamentary Budget office, similar strategy was forecasted to cost $1.3 billion the year after it was publicized and $4.3 billion during the first year it became operational. From then on, the project would cost approximately $1.5 billion every year until the conclusion of the agreement in 2025.


About the Author

Dr. James Younger is a practicing dentist and Founder/CEO of TempStars – Canada’s largest and #1 rated dental temping and hiring service. Connecting over 5,000 dental offices with more than 14,000 dental hygienists and assistants, Dr. Younger has a constant “finger on the pulse” of the dental employment industry and job market, and is passionate about sharing thoughts and insights with his fellow dental professionals.


RELATED ARTICLE: Tens of Thousands of Families Have Applied for Federal Child Dental Benefit

RELATED NEWS