The federal government’s dental insurance plan will be phased in by 2024, government sources told The Canadian Press. This program should be officially announced on Monday.
Membership applications should be available next week, starting with people age 87 and older. However, it will be several months before they start receiving benefits, officials said in instructions provided to The Canadian Press, on condition that they not be named.
The dental insurance plan was a condition of the support and confidence agreement between the Liberals and New Democrats, which allowed the minority Liberal government to secure the support of the NDP in key municipal votes in the House.
The agreement provides for a plan that will provide dental benefits directly to low- and middle-income Canadians without private insurance.
Eligibility will gradually expand over the next year to include all eligible people over 65 in May 2024, then children under 18 and people with disabilities in June.
The first people enrolled in the program should begin receiving dental services in May.
The government aims to make the program available to all eligible Canadians by 2025.
When the program is fully expanded, it will apply to approximately nine million people, making it the largest social program of the federal government. The cost is estimated at $13 billion in the first five years.
To be eligible, applicants must be Canadian residents with a family income of less than $90,000 and no private insurance.
The government will check the criteria against applicants’ tax returns and require employers to declare on T4 tax forms if their employees have dental cover.
No tax return, no dental insurance
This means that people who do not file their taxes cannot access the program.
The eligibility of people with disabilities, based on whether or not they benefit from a disability tax credit, will be maintained at least until the program is extended to all people below the fixed income threshold.
Services offered, including preventative dental cleanings, treatments and removable dentures, closely mirror services offered to First Nations and Inuit registered under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
When the new federal program launches, people will be able to take their benefit cards to registered dental providers, who will apply for them.
Different from provincial programs
The Liberals want coverage to match existing federal and provincial dental health benefits, but the government is still negotiating with each province to determine which program will be the primary payer.
People who receive existing federal dental benefits, including refugees, veterans and First Nations people, will be eligible for the new federal program. There are currently no plans to merge the programs.
The government signed a $750 million contract with Sun Life Assurance Canada to handle the claims. The Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Jean-Yves Duclos, previously announced a $15 million agreement with the company to prepare the land in September.
Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Member of Parliament for the Quebec riding, answered questions from the opposition in the House. (Archive photo)
A copy of this agreement, obtained through the Access to Information Act, shows that the work includes preparations for the registration of dental providers, as well as the establishment of a website and ‘a call center to answer to questions from oral health care providers and plans. members.
The government plans to start sending letters to the first group of potential applicants next week, and it has set up its own call center to register seniors for the program.
In May, the registration process is expected to move to an online platform.
Once the government confirms the applicant’s eligibility, Sun Life will begin the registration process.