The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News (2024)

The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is set to start providing coverage next month — but it's not clear that enough dentists will enrol to provide care to the 1.6 million seniors that have signed up already.

Health Canada would not provide CBC News with a figure forhow many oral health care providers have registered for the CDCP since applications opened on March 11. The department will only say"thousands" have signed on.

According to their national associations, there are approximately 26,500 dentists, 1,700 independent hygienistsand 2,400 denturistspractising in Canada —30,500 in total.

"I'm hearing that the sign-up is slow," said Dr. Heather Carr,president of the Canadian Dental Association."I do not think it's as high as we would hope in order for this plan to be successful."

The $13 billion Canadian Dental Care Plan, announced in December, will provide low- and middle-income Canadian residents with dental insurance if they don't have private coverage.

The national programwill eventually apply to one quarter of Canadians, but Ottawa is rolling out eligibility gradually, starting with seniors first. (An interim dental plan has been covering kids under the age of 12 since December 2022.)

Seniors learning their dentists aren't taking part

Some seniors approved for coverage are finding out their dentists aren't participating.

"I was annoyed. I was really cross," said Karen Trimingham, 82, who lives in Yarmouth, N.S., where she's seen the same dentist for 16 years. "I didn't think they'd refuse me because I'm a regular customer."

Triminghamsaid she doesn't want to drive hours from her rural community to find a dentist in another city who is signed up for the program.

"I've just got to continue paying. I'll just go and have the minimal amount done with the dentist I've got," she said. "Instead of having this tooth replaced that I lost a couple of months ago, I'll just go with the gap."

WATCH | Not all dentalprocedures will be covered:

Not enough dentists joining national dental care plan

9 days ago

Duration 1:59

Roughly 1.6 million Canadian seniors have signed up for the national dental care plan, but only a few thousand dentists have agreed to take part. This could force seniors to scramble to find a new dentist who’s participating in the program.

Victoria senior Joanne Thibault, 68, saidher dentist won't take part either.

"It really irks me that the federal government came out and announced a dental plan, but they didn't do their homework to get the thing in place so that my dentist could be part of it," she said.

"I'm not abandoning my dentist. I just want the federal government to do their job and to get this sorted out with them so that she can do her job."

Associationpresidents aren'tsigning up their own clinics

Canada's dentists, hygienistsand denturists have broadlysupported the ideaof a national public dental care plan, which they say will help provide essential oral health care to peoplemost in need whootherwise would have to pay out of pocket.

But the presidents of some provincial dentist associations — who arepractising dentists themselves — have toldCBC News they aren't planning to offer the program in their own dental offices.

  • Health Canada clarifies eligibility for seniors under national dental care plan
  • Seniors unclear on whether they can drop their private dental insurance for national plan

They say Ottawa still has not provided enough details for a program due to launchin a matter of weeks.

They also say they're troubled by the fact that Ottawa is requiring them to sign contracts in order to jointhe program, something that no other public or private plans require.

"The patient should have the autonomy and the right to choose their own dentist," said Dr. Jenny Doerksen, president of the Alberta Dental Association.

"But unlike other dental plans, this federal program is asking the dentist to sign a contract that's seven pages long with a lot of unknown factors and unnecessary terms and conditions."

The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News (2)

Dental health care providers say they're also concerned about imposing a lot of new paperwork on already overburdened administrative staff.

"My staff have told me in no uncertain terms they don't want to do the program because they just cannot handle the extra burden that comes with it," said Dr. Rob Wolanski, president of the B.C. Dental Association.

The CDCP is modelled on the Non-Insured Health Benefits, a federal program that provides dental care to First Nations and Inuit in Canada.

"It's a program that has faced criticism for years from both patients and patient communities, as well as providers," said Dr. Daron Baxter, president of the Manitoba Dental Association.

"One of the main reasons is due to the intensive administrative burden that often leads to delays in delivery of care."

Dentists also still don't know how the CDCP will coordinate with other plans offered by provinces and territories.

Last-minute consultation

Provincial dental associations say Ottawa only began consulting with them in November, just a month before the program was announced.

"The dentists were brought in at the 11th hour," said Dr. Brock Nicolucci, president of the Ontario Dental Association.

"Why did we start so late and are we rushing in a program that maybe we should be putting the brakes on?"

WATCH | Dentists raise concerns about federal dental care rollout:

The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News (3)

Dentists raise concerns about federal dental care rollout

11 days ago

Duration 8:45

Canadian Dental Association president Heather Carr says her colleagues are 'hopeful' the new federal dental care program will mean better care for more Canadians, but the rollout has included 'a great deal of confusion and a great deal of complications' for dentists and patients.

The federal government, they say, also initially pitched the plan as"free" dental care — and it isn't.

The program only covers some types of dental workand pays dental health care providersat a lower rate than the fees recommended by provincial and territorialguidelines issued by dental associations. Dentists say they still don'tknow exactly how much the federal governmentwill pay them for providing care. Those amounts change every year; the 2024 CDCP guide still hasn't beenpublished.

There is also a significant co-pay for those withhousehold net incomes between $70,000 and $90,000.

That means most patients should still expect a bill after visiting the dentist's chair.

The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News (4)

Health Minister Mark Holland suggested Ottawa may sweeten the deal to entice more dental care providers to join.

"We're working actively on creating an alternative portal that will allow dentists to participate just directly. When a patient comes in front of them, to just put in the information, and be able to put in that claim," Holland told reporters during a stop in Winnipeg this week.

  • Health minister must sell oral health providers on dental care plan before coverage begins

Holland compared the CDCP to theintroduction ofuniversal healthcare in Canada, which he says also came with challenges.

"There's a lot of fear, it's a new program, I get that," Holland said.

"But conversation by conversation, it's been moving very positively, and I believe that we're going to have exceptionally strong uptake."

Do you have questions about howCanada's new dental care plan may affect you? Send an email to

The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News (2024)


The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate | CBC News? ›

The Canadian Dental Care Plan starts next month — but many dentists are reluctant to participate. Health Canada says thousands of oral health care providers have signed up to start providing care to 1.6 million seniors this May — a number dental associations say is a low turnout.

What is Canada's new dental plan? ›

The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) will help ease financial barriers to accessing oral health care for eligible Canadian residents. Applications will open in phases starting with seniors. Find out when you can apply.

What is the future of dentists in Canada? ›

According to current data for the period of 2022-2031, employment growth for dentists is above the average for all occupations. There are expected to be about 13,500 new opportunities. This is due to industry expansion as well as many existing dentists retiring in the coming years.

Is there a shortage of dentists in Canada? ›

If we project these trends even further over the next 5 to 10 years, it becomes clear that there will likely be a shortage of full-time dentists across Canada. This shortage may lead to lower selling prices for established practices when combined with normal death, disability and retirement rates.

Why was dental care excluded from Canadian Medicare? ›

In summary, dental care was not included because of significant decreases in dental caries and limitations in dental human re- sources as the country's health legislation was being developed, alongside the presence of a viable alternative option to large- scale treatment services (i.e. fluoridation), and the belief ...

Is dental cheaper in Canada or US? ›

No, it is never cheaper in Canada or the US. But it is significantly cheaper if you can travel to Mexico.

Who gets free dental care in Canada? ›

The Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) is an interim benefit that provides direct, up-front, tax-free payments to help cover out-of-pocket dental care expenses for children under 12 years of age who do not have access to private dental benefits and whose family income is less than $90,000 a year.

Are dentists highly paid in Canada? ›

The average salary of dentists typically falls between $70,000 and $400,000 annually, with a median income of around $175,000. Some reports indicate earnings exceeding $500,000.

Why is the dentist so expensive in Canada? ›

Three provincial associations reached by The Globe and Mail said a combination of decades-high inflation, higher staffing costs and other rising dental practice expenses such as rent, equipment, and infection control and prevention are driving average annual fee increases of 5 per cent to almost 10 per cent.

How much does the average dentist make in Canada? ›

The national average salary for a Dentist is $117,362 in Canada.

Are dentists saturated in Canada? ›

Over-saturation of dentists in Canada

According to the Canadian Dental Association, the population-to-dentist ratio has been dropping in all provinces and territories. This dentist glut is resulting in growing competition and tough times for dentists especially in urban centres like Toronto.

Which country is the most demanding for dentists? ›

While the United States is generally considered the best country for dentistry, Sweden is the most advanced country in dentistry while Canada is one of the countries with highest demand for dentists.

How many Canadians don't go to the dentist? ›

A new report from Statistics Canada shows in 2022, nearly one-third of Canadians went a year without seeing the dentist. The data, from a Canadian Community Health Survey, found 65 per cent of Canadians reported having seen a dentist or dental hygienist in the 12 months before the survey.

Where does Canada rank in dental care? ›

Here are the top 10 countries with the best dental health based on DMFT index scores.
  • Denmark – 0.4 DMFT score.
  • Germany – 0.5 DMFT score.
  • Finland – 0.7 DMFT score.
  • United Kingdom – 0.8 DMFT score.
  • Sweden – 0.8 DMFT score.
  • Switzerland – 0.9 DMFT score.
  • Canada – 1.0 DMFT score.
  • Mexico – 1.1 DMFT score.
Sep 27, 2017

Why is dental not covered by health insurance in Canada? ›

Dental associations lobbied hard against being included. “There was the political reality that dentists, just like physicians at the time, rejected the idea of being conscripted into a national health-insurance system,” Quiñonez says. “They didn't want governments involved in their business.

How much does the average Canadian spend on dental care? ›

In 2018, Statistics Canada estimated that the average annual household out-of-pocket dental spending was $430, ranging up to $600, depending on household income level. These often unaffordable costs deter families from seeking dental care.

Is there a new dental plan for seniors in Canada? ›

In March, eligibility opened to seniors aged 70 and older. Coverage is set to begin in May. The program is expected to be open to all eligible applicants by 2025. More than 1 million Canadians have signed up for the plan, Citizen's Services Minister Terry Beech said during question period last week.

How much is the new dental benefit in Canada? ›

Once you have applied and are approved, you can get up to a maximum of two payments per child. The payment amounts are $260, $390, or $650. These payments are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency and are considered to be tax-free.

Will seniors get free dental care in Canada? ›

Launched December 2023 New! The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is a federally delivered public plan for eligible Canadian residents. Now open for application for seniors aged 70 and over.

What is the $300 federal payment in Canada? ›

This is financial assistance from the federal government to an eligible taxpayer. If you have paid your taxes on time you may be eligible to receive $300 of Federal Assistance from the Government of Canada if you are retired, disabled, or looking for further assistance.

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