KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is set to become available to more Canadians in the new year. Yet more than 25,000 dentists nationwide say they are in the dark about the plan from the Government of Canada.
The CDCP is currently in final planning stages, with a potential rollout in 2024 that will attempt to increase access to uninsured Canadians under 18, people with disabilities, and seniors who have an annual family income of less than $90,000.
“The CDCP could be a game-changer for Canadians’ access to dental care. But we have one chance to get it right. Here in Ontario, we have seen that dental care programs developed without the input of dentists are doomed to fail. Just look at the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, where waiting lists are up to two years long in some areas, and some patients have to travel ridiculously long distances to receive treatment.” said Dr. Brock Nicolucci, President, Ontario Dental Association
In a letter sent to Members of Parliament (MPs) this week, the presidents of provincial and territorial dental associations across the country asked how the government will:
- Safeguard employer-provided dental plans that two-thirds of Canadians currently have access to?
- Ensure that a strong federal program can be coordinated with existing provincial programs?
- Protect patient choice and maintain the patient-provider relationship?
- Ensure minimal, efficient administration that promotes timely access to care?
- Respect the costs of delivering dental care to maximize provider participation?
- Increase the number of dental assistants and dental hygienists to meet the demands of the CDCP?
The provincial and territorial dental associations say they are concerned that the CDCP has been compromised by a lack of meaningful consultation with dentists, who will be expected to deliver on the government’s promises.
The dental associations say if not done properly, two-thirds of Canadians who have great employer-provided dental plans could lose their coverage and be forced into a worse plan. Costs would then skyrocket, which means the $13 billion over five years the government set aside would not be enough to sustain the plan.
“Poorly designed programs do not improve access to care, and they leave the most vulnerable people in society behind. This is a historic opportunity, but only if the government gets it right. Dentists have the expertise, experience, and skills to know what it takes to ensure good oral and overall health.” states Dr. Rob Wolanski, President, British Columbia Dental Association
Dental associations say the government can increase access to dental care right now through an expansion of the interim measure already in place – the Canada Dental Benefit. This establishes a fixed dollar amount that a patient can use to be reimbursed for dental-related expenses. A recent survey commissioned by Health Canada found that nearly nine out of 10 Canadians are satisfied with the Canada Dental Benefit.
“To succeed, this plan needs to work for both patients and providers, and to work in each province. What we are recommending is based on decades of experience and caring for the oral health needs of the more than 30 million people that come into our dental offices across the country every year.” said Dr. Bruce Yaholnitsky, President, Alberta Dental Association
Over 60 per cent of Canadians have a dentist they visit on a regular basis. Canada’s provincial and territorial dental associations represent more than 25,000 licensed dentists working in more than 16,000 offices. They treat more than 30 million Canadians every year and employ at least 50,0001 oral health care workers.