Recent data has highlighted that not all Canadian provinces and territories are receiving an equal share of the funds from the Canadian Dental Benefit – in news that has provoked fury among some.
It turns out that provinces that already have existing dental coverage for children have been given a smaller share of funds from the benefit . Many point out that they are essentially being penalized for this approach.
This development has also heightened concerns that individual provinces will end their coverage as the dental program expands – which threatens to actually worsen the overall oral health situation.
The Dental Benefit
The Federal Dental Benefit was launched in late 2022, with the aim of assisting low and middle income families financially with oral healthcare for their children.
As a result of the benefit, hundreds of thousands of children have been able to benefit from dental care. Furthermore, in the long-term, many expect the oral health of Canadian children to strengthen.
Data provided to the Canadian Parliament has shown that provinces and territories with existing dental coverage were given less federal money when compared to those without existing coverage . This is after size of populations have already been taken into account.
At first it had been assumed that all of the provinces would receive an equal share of the dental benefit. However, this has not been the case. The data has elicited strong reactions.
The provinces and territories of Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Quebec, Yukon, Nunavut and Nova Scotia all received less funding than the national average . Interestingly, these all provided existing dental coverage for children prior to the benefit.
Health Canada, who have administered the benefit, responded by saying the benefit was designed to complement provincial coverage . This essentially has the aim of filling gaps in coverage to try and create a level playing field. But while this may sound like a strong strategy, it has provoked angry comments from some.
Situation branded an “injustice”
Bloc Quebecois MP Jean-Denis Garon described the situation as an “injustice” . Continuing, Garon said that “provinces who have higher taxes, whose citizens contribute more to their own dental plans are less covered by the federal program” .
Moreover, Garon said this creates a situation where these citizens end up subsidizing the dental program in other provinces . Therefore, Garon suggests that it is a “strong deterrent” to any province that considers launching progressive programs .
With this in mind, Colleen Flood – a Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Ottawa – has said the current situation is going to make provinces “de-insure” their citizens and “ship them to the federal plan” instead . This is because such a move makes more financial sense for provinces with existing coverage – specifically those that have not been given an equal amount.
This situation means that each province has differing amounts of federal funds being sent to them. Therefore, it is unsurprising that this has caused such disappointment for some.
For reference, the average amount from the government across all provinces and territories was $4.23 per person .
The territory of Yukon is known for having a very generous dental program for children. As a result of this though, they received the least amount of money, averaging at just $1.02 per person .
This paltry amount can be contrasted with the province of Manitoba. Under the benefit, Manitoba had the most amount of money, with an average of $5.77 per person . Prior to the benefit, there was very little support given to children’s oral health.
The dental benefit has certainly caused a lot of headlines. The government had initially hoped to launch a national dental care program by the end of last year, but after being unable to do so, a temporary dental benefit was launched instead.
As seen in this case, it is proving difficult to please everyone. While the government is hoping to achieve equality in care, this has come at the cost of alienating many in provinces and territories with existing dental coverage.
Colleen Flood mentioned that a “joint federal-provincial approach” would create the most effective results . While this clearly hasn’t been achieved in this case, there is hope that progress can be made in the future.
The government is hoping that the gradual rollout of the full national dental care program will be smoother. Instead of just children benefiting, the next phase of the plan will also cover those aged under 18, the elderly and people with disabilities.
This expansion will hopefully see improved oral health for those around Canada. However, there are clearly problems that need fixing before then.
 With the rollout of the wider national dental care plan looming, many people are tempted to hold off on visiting a dentist – hoping instead to wait for financial assistance from the plan. However, remember that dental problems do not get better on their own. Instead, they will only worsen and cause more problems. Therefore, it is very important to frequently visit a dental clinic for a check-up. We recommend that you book an appointment now!
 Do you have friends or family members in other provinces or territories? If so, consider sharing this article with them! They might be interested to see what approach to the benefit their province or territory is taking. You could have a discussion with them about the topic and see what you both think. Why not share the article now?
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 very important to have excellent oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly and eating healthily. Therefore, this should help your oral health.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
Moreover, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing.
We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.
 Osman, L. (2023). Provinces with existing dental coverage got smaller share of federal kids’ benefit. Available: https://www.cp24.com/news/provinces-with-existing-dental-coverage-got-smaller-share-of-federal-kids-benefit-1.6457610. Last accessed: 8th July 2023.