During a visit to one of Western University’s dentistry clinics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced eligible Canadians can apply for the federal dental benefit starting today.
Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry has various teaching dental clinics that provide oral health care at a reduced cost to Londoners with disabilities and those who can’t afford care.
“A third of Canadians currently do not have dental insurance. If you have one or more children at home sending them to a dentist is not cheap. Starting today, many parents can get their kids the proper dental care they need, without worrying about the bill,” said Trudeau. “We will always be there for families who need it most, when they need it most, and we will keep working to deliver much-needed relief now, as we build an economy that works for all Canadians.”
The Canada Dental Benefit is part of the recently announced national dental-care program for low-income Canadians and is arguably one of the most significant health-care initiatives since the establishment of the public health-care system in Canada.
The benefit will be used towards the dental care of children under the age of 12, and families that earn less than $90,000 a year are eligible to apply for it. Depending on net family income, parents can receive between $260 and $650 per child per year, while for families earning less than $70,000 annually there will be no co-pays.
President Alan Shepard welcomed the announcement and reflected on Western’s values that endorse and support equitable and quality health care for all.
“Our faculty, staff and Schulich dental and medical students serve more than two million people in southwest Ontario, including those living in Indigenous and rural communities as well as in urban centres such as London,” said Shepard. “Along with offering critical health services to the community, our teams at Schulich carry out world-class research that makes a difference in the lives and health of people across Canada and around the world.”
Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Dean Dr. John Yoo said making health more equitable is one of the school’s most critical priorities. “This is why we are pleased to host this significant announcement about the national dental-care program,” he said. “Oral health is health, and everyone deserves quality care and equal access.”
Schulich Dentistry’s teaching clinics see over 24,000 patient visits annually and students also participate in external service learning opportunities to further meet the oral health needs of the community.
“This national dental benefit program very much aligns with Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s mission to teach our students the importance of serving the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, vice dean and director, dentistry at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “We see this as a potential opportunity to expand services to even more people in need.”
Prime Minister Trudeau was joined at the event by Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould; MP for London North Centre, Peter Fragiskatos; MP for London West, Arielle Kayabaga; and President of Canadian Dental Association, Dr. Lynn Tomkins. Patients of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s dental clinic were also present at the announcement.
The national dental-care program was part of the NDP-backed Liberal affordability bill – Bill C-31—that was passed and made law on Nov. 17. It is estimated the program will cover about 6.5 million Canadians. While coverage for children under 12 starts Dec. 1, it will be expanded to those under 18, seniors and people living with disabilities in 2023. The government aims to implement the program fully by 2025.
Read the official government announcement here.