A new report has suggested that hundreds of thousands of Canadians are missing out on the dental benefit. The report argued that the take-up for the benefit has been “atrocious”. The report has criticized the Canadian Revenue Agency – who have in turn responded to the findings of the report. Irrespective of potential problems, the most important element is for the benefit to have a strong impact on the oral health of Canadians – something it is hopefully achieving.

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A new report has found that hundreds of thousands of Canadians are potentially missing out on government money that was intended to help Canadians cope with the cost of living crisis [1].

The report stated that the dental benefit take-up was “atrocious” [1]. This has caused debate on the merits of the dental benefit and whether or not it is worth the outlay that the government has committed to it.

What is the dental benefit?

The dental benefit was first made available in December 2022. It forms part of the wider National Dental Care Plan that will be implemented in full by 2025.

The benefit is intended to financially assist low or middle-income families with the dental care for any children of theirs under the age of 12 [2]. The benefit allows eligible families to receive up to $650 per child each year.

At first, the uptake was strong, with approximately 200,000 children benefiting within the first three months. The number has remained steady since then.

The report

The report was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) [1]. David Macdonald – the Senior Economist at the CCPA – fronted the report.

The report found that only just over half of eligible Canadians have claimed the Canadian dental benefit [1]. This, according to Macdonald, is “atrocious” [1].

Macdonald said “these are pretty atrociously low take-up rates” [1]. Continuing, he said that “we should be learning lessons from this” in order for “much higher take-up rates” to take place in future projects [1].

In the report, Macdonald outlines some of the various factors he believes are involved in the apparent low uptake. For example, Macdonald criticized what he termed an “invasive” application process which requires a lot of documentation. He suggested that this put some families off of claiming the benefit.

Macdonald also took aim at the government for an apparent lack of awareness of the dental benefit. He believed that Canadians haven’t been informed enough about it. He said that the government should “email people below a certain income threshold” and tell them that they’re eligible for the program [1].

The finances

Macdonald pointed out that the actual finances involved are much different to those predicted [1]. Originally, the dental benefit was estimated to cost the government $352million in the 2022-23 financial year [1].

However, only $156.3million had been disbursed by the end of March [1]. Therefore, this represents just 44% of the predicted amount. While the first year isn’t yet over, the uptake was expected to be higher.

While this might work in the favor of the government from a financial perspective, it does show that Canadians are not making the most of the help being afforded to them by the government.

Macdonald has said that “the government is failing to move this money to the people who need it most”, calling this a “shame” [1].

Response from the Canadian Revenue Agency

However, these comments were disputed by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), who have administered the benefit [1]. The CRA said in a statement that a range of communications and outreach activities had been carried out to make people aware of the program.

Moreover, the CRA also said that they sent 50,000 people emails in December, 1.6million people in January and 1.3million people in March [1]. This response underlines their efforts to raise awareness of the benefit.

What this means

There is certainly some disagreement between the CRA and the opinions given in the report. But looking at the bigger picture, as long as there are people whose oral health is benefiting from the current situation, this is the main thing.

The hope is that more people will benefit in the forthcoming months. Furthermore, in the long-term – by the time the plan is implemented in full – that even more people will be able to have stronger oral health!

Thinking points…

1) The cost of dental care is one of the leading reasons for the creation of the dental benefit – as many people need assistance with costs. However, here at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental, our prices are consistent with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. Therefore, our fees are fully transparent, reliable and trustworthy. To find out more, why not read about our Calgary dental clinic at our website https://taradaledental.ca!

2) Whether or not you are eligible for the dental benefit, it is still very important to look after your oral health. This involves brushing your teeth regularly and engaging in other preventive measures. One of the best ways of ensuring your oral health is strong is attending a dental check-up. Check-ups provide a dentist with the opportunity to carry out a review of your oral health and provide advice. It is important to attend a dental clinic at least once every six months for a check-up – we recommend booking an appointment soon!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.

It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is important.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.

We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.


[1] Al Mailees, N. (2023). Thousands of Canadians missed out on federal housing and dental benefits: report. Available: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/thousands-of-canadians-missed-out-on-federal-housing-and-dental-benefits-report-1.6359901.

[2] Ontario Dental Association. (2022). Canadian Dental Care Plan. Available: https://www.oda.ca/visiting-the-dentist/government-dental-programs/canadian-dental-care-plan/. Last accessed: 21st April 2023.