Head of Manitoba Dental Association raises concerns about federal dental care plan

Click to play video: 'Dental care providers raising questions on federal plan'
Dental care providers raising questions on federal plan
The potential start date for the federal government's plan for affordable dental care is just over a month away. Some providers in Alberta are raising questions on the details of the program and whether or not it’s worth opting in. Jasmine King reports – Mar 29, 2024

Friday, Federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh spent a second day in Winnipeg, and spoke with seniors about how to apply for Canada’s upcoming universal dental care program, that one professional is wary of.

The politician went to a senior’s care centre in Elmwood, providing details on how and where to apply for the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP). He explained how to find out whether they’re registered, and who to speak with if they’re unsure.

Singh said the program will be monitored closely to make sure seniors get their coverage.

“You can tell from the questions in the room, seniors are anxious. I had another senior come up to me saying, ‘When am I going to be able to actually go into the dentist and get this sorted out?’ because they’ve got issues of pain and they’ve got teeth that need to be looked after,” he said.

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“I want them to know that we’re going to make this happen.”

Seniors are not the only ones concerned.

Dr. Daron Baxter, president of the Manitoba Dental Association, said she believes the dental plan is great in theory, but that its design is flawed.

“There’s a requirement for providers to register for this program. That’s different from all other private or public insurance programs that exist in the dental community of Canada,” she said.

In those systems, patients register for care with their provider of choice. But with the universal plan, Baxter said that choice might be made for them because of the onus on dentists to register.

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“If dentists haven’t registered, then patients cannot seek care with that dentist and utilize their Canadian dental care benefit,” the doctor said.

She noted dentists may not register for several reasons.

“There are challenges to the registration process for dentists. It’s asking them to go into a legal contract with the government (which has) terms and conditions that, in real time, we’re trying to understand,” Baxter said.

She said it’s the first time Canada has seen limitations on a patient’s ability to choose their provider.

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“Fundamental to all Canadians is the right to choose your health care provider, to enable you to continue care with your existing provider, or seek a provider based on your own individual needs and values, including language, and (ability) to choose a provider in your community,” she said.

Baxter said it’s also not made clear that the program is subsidized.

“(It) helps cover costs of care, but does not cover the full cost,” she said. “We would like to see a reduction of out-of-pocket expenses at the dental office, or at least clear communication on what those will be.”

A spokesperson for the office of Canada’s health minister said, “the federal government has been clear about the costs associated with the CDCP, which is indicated on the letter that every beneficiary receives.”

They said “Canadians with a net family income below $70,000 will have no copay, while those having a net family income between $70,000 and $89,999 will have a copay between 40 per cent and 60 per cent.

“There may be additional costs to the patient if the provider chooses to charge more than what the CDCP will reimburse based on the established CDCP fees, or if the patient agrees to receive services that are not covered under the CDCP.”

The spokesperson said providers can go to SunLife and complete a form confirming their participation, and once they are set up, they will get payment from SunLife within 48 hours of submitting their patient’s visit.

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Click to play video: 'Feds unveil expanded dental care program for uninsured Canadians'
Feds unveil expanded dental care program for uninsured Canadians

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