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Edit dental insurance: implemented in 2024

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The first people enrolled in the program should be able to start claiming dental services in May. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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The federal government's dental insurance plan will be gradually implemented in 2024, government sources tell The Canadian Press . This program is expected to be officially announced on Monday.

Applications for membership should be available next week, starting with those aged 87 and over. However, it will be several months before they can begin claiming benefits, officials said in guidelines provided to The Canadian Press, on the condition that they are not named.

The dental insurance plan is a condition of the support and confidence agreement between the Liberals and the New Democrats, which allows the minority Liberal government to secure the support of the NDP in key votes in the House of Commons.

The agreement provides for a plan that would provide dental benefits directly to low- and middle-income Canadians income without private insurance.

Eligibility will gradually expand over the next year to include all eligible people over the age of 65 by May 2024, followed by children under 18 and disabled people by June.

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The first people registered in the program should be able to start claiming dental services in May.

The government aims to make the program available to all eligible Canadians in 2025.

Once the program is fully expanded, it will be available to approximately nine million people, making it the federal government's largest social program. The cost is estimated at $13 billion over the first five years.

To be eligible, applicants must be Canadian residents with a lower household income at $90,000 and without private insurance.

The government will check the criteria against applicants' tax returns and has required employers to declare on T4 tax forms whether their employees have dental coverage.

This means that people who do not file their tax return will not have access to the program.

The eligibility of persons with disabilities, based on whether or not they benefit from a disability tax credit, will be maintained at least until the program is extended to all people who are below the established income threshold.

The services offered, including preventive teeth cleanings, treatments and removable prostheses, will closely mirror the services offered to First Nations and Inuit members registered under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.

Once the new federal program launches, people will be able to bring their benefit cards to registered dental providers, who will apply on their behalf.

The Liberals want coverage to align with existing federal and provincial dental health benefits, but the government is still negotiating with each province to determine which program would be the primary payer.

People receiving existing federal dental benefits, including refugees, veterans and First Nations people, will be eligible for the new federal program. So far there are no plans to merge the programs.

The government signed a $750 million contract with Sun Life Assurance Canada to manage the claims. The Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Jean-Yves Duclos, previously announced a $15 million agreement with the company to prepare the ground in September.

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Jean-Yves Duclos, Federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Member of Parliament for constituency of Quebec, answers questions from the opposition in the House. (Archive photo)

A copy of this agreement, obtained through the Access to Information Act, shows that the work includes preparations for the registration of dental care providers, as well as the establishment of a website and call center to answer questions from oral care providers and plan participants.

The government plans to start sending letters to the first cohort of potential candidates next week, and has set up its own call center to register seniors for the program.

In May, the registration process is expected to move to an online platform.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Once the government confirms the applicant's eligibility, Sun Life will begin the registration process.

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