Applications for the federal government’s new dental insurance program are about to open up to more Canadians.
Starting Feb. 1, Service Canada will begin sending letters to seniors aged 72 to 76 inviting them to apply for the Canadian Dental Care Plan, which provides dental coverage for Canadians without dental insurance if their family income is less than $90,000.
The program is set to start in May, but applications have been rolling out in phases starting with Canadians 87 and older in December 2023. In January, those aged 77 to 86 were invited to apply, and in March, seniors aged 70 to 71 will be able to apply.
So far, Employment and Social Development Canada says more than 400,000 Canadian seniors have already been approved.
Applications will move to an online process and open up for all seniors aged 65 and older in May 2024, coinciding with the start of the program.
Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and children under 18 can begin applying this June, while all remaining eligible Canadians are set to gain access in 2025.
After Service Canada has deemed an applicant eligible, their information will be shared with Sun Life, the insurance company responsible for administering the program. Sun Life will handle the enrolment and send eligible applicants a welcome package, informing them of their specific coverage start date and details of their plan.
But as application eligibility continues to expand, dentists have expressed concerns over the lack of details on how the program will work or how much the government will pay, with the May launch of the program less than four months away.
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland told CTV News Channel’s Power Play host Vassy Kapelos negotiations are still ongoing with dental associations and said he’ll “make sure” dentists get fair compensation under the program.
“We have a long time between now and May when services roll out and I feel deeply confident in the program,” he said. “Looking at all of those moving pieces, I feel very confident we can meet those timelines.”
Canadians enrolled in the program would only be able to use their coverage with dentists who have opted in. Holland said he’s confident that the program is “going to have really strong uptake” among dentists.
“I base it on reason, and the conversations that I’ve had, to feel very confident that we’re going to have something there that’s fair to both patients and dentists,” Holland said.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Rachel Aiello