Canadian dentists are demanding more details on the forthcoming federal dental insurance plan.
Eleven provincial and territorial dental associations have collectively penned a letter to the federal health minister, voicing their apprehensions about the lack of information concerning crucial aspects of the new plan.
Ottawa’s dental insurance plan originated from the Liberals’ supply-and-confidence deal with the NDP. The spring budget had allocated $13 billion over the next five years for its implementation, with the aim of insuring up to nine million people from middle- and low-income backgrounds.
The program’s initial phase will focus on providing coverage for uninsured individuals under 18, seniors, and people with disabilities, with a family income threshold set at $90,000 annually. However, the specifics of the program have yet to be announced.
In their letter, the associations expressed concern that the absence of meaningful consultation with the dental community may jeopardize the new plan’s success.
They asked to be briefed on how the government plans to prevent employers and private insurers from reducing their coverage for low- and middle-income families and potentially directing patients to the federal program.
Additionally, they sought clarification on how the new program will coordinate with existing public coverage offered by federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
The associations also sent the letter to all members of Parliament, according to the Canadian Press.
While Health Minister Mark Holland has acknowledged extensive consultations with various stakeholders, he has refrained from revealing specific details publicly in anticipation of an official announcement.
But Dr. Brock Nicolucci, a practicing dentist and the chair of the board for the Ontario Dental Association, said the government has not communicated with them over the past year.
"The past year and a bit, there’s been crickets," he told the Canadian Press. "We’ve been kept in the dark."
Another concern voiced by the dental associations relates to their concerns over the availability of dental hygienists and assistants to meet the increased demand.
They argued that the current shortage requires immediate attention, especially as the federal dental insurance plan’s rollout approaches.
Ontario currently has a shortage of 5,500 hygienists and 3,400 dental assistants, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
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