Province plans to opt out of Canadian Dental Care Plan

Premier says it 'unnecessarily replicates' publicly funded dental coverage

Province plans to opt out of Canadian Dental Care Plan

While the federal government is continuing to roll out the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) to more Canadians, Alberta residents may not be benefitting from the program for long.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dated Tuesday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith noted that the province plans to opt out of the program by 2026.

That’s because the CDCP “unnecessarily replicates” publicly funded dental coverage that is already available to many Albertans, according to the premier.

“This duplication raises the question of the value of maintaining two plans and whether health funding would be more wisely used to support a single plan,” Smith wrote in the letter, according to Global News.

“Alberta has long maintained that it would be more effective to expand existing provincial programs than to introduce a new federal plan.”

Additional dental plan ‘complex and confusing’

Smith also said that the addition of another dental plan is “complex and confusing.”

“Juggling two overlapping plans and struggling to understand their similarities and differences from a coverage viewpoint is challenging. Eligibility is also a concern,” she said in Global News.

Ottawa revealed details of the CDCP rollout in late 2023. Budget 2023 announced an investment of $13 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion ongoing, to implement the CDCP.

The plan is administered by Health Canada in collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), through Service Canada and Sun Life.

Effective June 27, the federal government has expanded the CDCP coverage to include children under 18 and persons with a valid disability tax credit certificate.

Plan to opt out of CDCP ‘absolutely egregious’

Alberta NDP health critic Dr. Luanne Metz didn’t take Smith’s plan to opt out of the CDCP lightly, saying that the plan is “absolutely egregious,” according to Global News.

That’s because many Albertans – including seniors and children – do not have dental coverage.

“This dental plan is going to help so many people,” she said. “We have needed it for a very long time.

Also, the overlap between the federal dental plan and the existing provincial program that Smith was referring to was “for the most part untrue.”

“People that are on social programs in Alberta, such as Alberta Works, and children in care do get dental coverage, but that’s a very tiny fraction of the people that will be eligible for this federal plan,” Metz said in the article.

Also, while Metz acknowledged that there are flaws in the way the federal program has rolled out and communicated the CDCP, he said the issues can be fixed.

More than 100,000 Albertans have already signed up for the CDCP and 200,000 Canadians have accessed dental services under it, said Christopher Aoun, press secretary to federal Health Minister Mark Holland, according to Global News.

And the federal government will not let “cheap political games” compromise the program.

“The federal government will protect Canadians’ access to the dental care plan so they can access the care they need,” said Aoun.

“To Premier Smith, we ask her to put politics aside so she can work with us to expand dental care coverage in Alberta.”

Starting this year, employers have been required to specify details around dental care spending for employees when filing taxes.

The past tax season, employers were required to report on a T4 or T4A slip whether – on Dec. 31 of the taxation year to which the information return relates – a payee or any of their family members were eligible to access dental insurance, or dental coverage of any kind – including health spending and wellness accounts – due to their current or former employment.

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