Rounding it up
The 2023 Federal Budget includes a dental care program for low-income Canadians.
The program will provide coverage for basic dental care services to eligible Canadians with an annual family income of less than $90,000, with no co-pays for those with family incomes under $70,000.
This will replace the temporary dental benefit that was set up by the government in 2022. The temporary benefit only covered uninsured children under the age of 12 in families with a household income of less than $90,000.
As we all know, poor oral health can have a significant impact on our overall health, leading to issues such as chronic pain and infection. Taking care of our teeth is important for our well-being, but for many people in Canada, accessing affordable dental care can be a real challenge.
Why the dental health benefit is important
The cost of dental care can be a barrier for many Canadians, particularly those on low incomes. Plus, dental health services aren't covered by the provincial healthcare plans, which means people often have to choose from the following options:
Dental coverage through the third-party insurance coverage of your employer
Private dental insurance if you are not covered for dental health by your employer
Pay for dental care out of your own pockets if you can afford to do so
Government-subsidized programs, such as the recently announced dental care program
Private health insurance is costly—not everyone can afford to get one. That would explain why, according to the Canadian Dental Association, about 32% of Canadians do not have dental insurance. This context sheds light on the general unaffordability of dental care and shows why the recent announcement of a new dental health benefit by the Canadian government is such welcome news.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at what this new benefit means for Canadians and how it might help improve access to dental care for those who need it most.
Eligibility criteria for the dental health benefit
In a nutshell, the recently announced dental health care benefit aims to provide coverage for basic dental care services to eligible Canadians with an annual family income of less than $90,000.
Now let’s look at the specific eligibility criteria you would need to meet to qualify for the benefit:
Must not be covered by private insurance
Must have a family income of less than $90,000
Must have no co-pays if your family income is under $70,000
Must have filed taxes for the previous year
Who will benefit from the dental health benefit?
The new dental health benefit is meant to replace the temporary dental health care benefit which was introduced in 2022 to provide basic dental care to uninsured children under the age of 12 in families with a household income of less than $90,000. With the new provisions, the Federal government hopes to expand the scope of the benefit to uninsured adults who meet the income threshold eligibility.
However, it’s important to note the timeline for the rollout as the benefit may not be useful to you right away. As it stands, this year, the government is expanding the eligibility of the dental health benefit to include individuals under the age of 18, seniors, and people with disabilities, who meet the income criteria and do not have insurance. They plan to further extend eligibility to anyone who meets the household income requirements by 2025.
How to apply for the dental health benefit?
While specific steps to apply for the expanded provisions in the new dental health care benefit are yet to be announced, here are the steps you can follow today to apply for any uninsured children under the age of 12:
Check if you are eligible for the benefit (resident of Canada, eligible for Canada Child Benefit, family income below $90,000/year, and do not have existing dental coverage)
Ensure that you’re logged into your CRA My Account
Select the "Apply for child benefits" option
If approved, the dental benefit will be automatically added to your monthly Canada Child Benefit payments.
Make sure you keep the following information ready when filling out the form:
Child's dental care provider's name, address, and telephone number
Child's dental appointment date
Employer's name, address, and telephone number (if applicable)
Spouse or common-law partner's employer's name, address, and telephone number (if applicable)
In case you don’t have an online account with the CRA, you can also apply by calling the number given on the CRA website. To do so, you will need to confirm your identity by providing your:
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Full name and date of birth
Assessed tax return, notice of assessment or reassessment, other tax document, or be signed into CRA My Account
Be sure to keep your receipts from the dentist visit handy as the CRA may need to validate those before approving you for the benefit.
It's important to recognize that oral health can be a real challenge for many people across Canada, particularly for those who may be struggling to make ends meet. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, and different regions and communities have unique needs that need to be addressed. While details on the kind of dental health services that will be covered by the benefit are yet to be announced, the initiative will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians who are struggling to get the dental care they need.
Meghana is a content strategist with experience writing for companies in the technology sector. Originally from India, Meghana has been living in Canada since 2019, where she continues to explore her passion for content marketing.