Canadian dentists are demanding details of Ottawa’s soon-to-be announced federal dental insurance plan and how the federal government plans to preserve existing provincial and private coverage.
Eleven provincial and territorial dental associations have written a joint letter to the federal health minister to express serious concerns about a lack of information about critical aspects of the new plan.
“We have no indication that we are being heard,” the dental associations said in their letter, which was also sent to all members of Parliament this week.
They wrote that they worry the success of the new plan is being compromised “by a lack of meaningful consultation with the dentists we represent — those who will be expected to deliver on the government’s promises.”
The plan was born out of the Liberals’ supply-and-confidence deal with the NDP last year, which calls for federal dental care coverage for middle- and low-income families.
The new insurance program is expected to be announced before the end of the year, though claims may not be accepted until 2024.
The spring budget promised $13 billion over the next five years to implement the national dental-care plan, which the federal government says will insure up to nine million people.
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The government plans to begin with coverage for uninsured people under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities under a $90,000 annual family income threshold.
More specific details about the new plan have not yet been released and those details are important, the dental associations said.
“If we get the details wrong, there will be serious unintended consequences and access to oral health care in Canada will be undermined for generations,” the letter stated.
The health minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has said he doesn’t want to pre-empt the official announcement.
The dentists want to understand, in particular, how the government plans to prevent employers and private insurers from scaling back their coverage for low- and middle-income families and referring patients to the federal program instead.
They also want to know how the new program will co-ordinate with existing public coverage provided by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.