Canada Dental Care Plan will soon open to more Canadian residents

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 4, 2024

Families in Canada with children under 18 may be eligible for the new Canada Dental Care Plan (CDCP) as of June 27.

The CDCP aims to help ease the financial burden of paying for dental care out of pocket for those below a certain income threshold with no private dental plan, as is often supplied by employment benefits for full-time workers.

The plan is being rolled out in phases. Eligible seniors over 65 could use the CDCP starting in December 2023.

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In the second phase adults with disabilities and children under the age of 18 may use the plan. This means eligible newcomers will not need to pay for their children’s dental care between the ages of 12-18. The Canada Dental Benefit has previously covered children under the age of 12.

All remaining eligible Canadians will be able to use the plan starting at an undetermined date in 2025.

Am I eligible as a temporary resident?

According to Service Canada, anyone who wants to use the CDCP must meet certain criteria. They must:

  • Not have access to a dental insurance plan
  • have an adjusted family net income of less than $90,000
  • have filed a tax return in the previous year
  • be a Canadian resident for tax purposes

This last point means that temporary residents (people in Canada on work or study permits)are eligible if they have one of the following residency codes on their most recent Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Eligible residency codes: 0, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12

Ineligible residency codes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15

Coverage is provided by Sun Life on behalf of Canada’s government, which will share the applicant’s information with the insurance company. Once enrolled, Sun Life will send:

  • information on the CDCP
  • A member card
  • A coverage start date

Service Canada’s webpage says that as of July 8, 2024, oral health providers will be able to direct bill Sun Life for services provided on a claim-by-claim basis without formally signing up for CDCP.

This means that after July 8, participants may see any dentist able to direct bill Sun Life. Before this date, clients will need to see a dentist who has already agreed to participate in the program.

Cost of dental care in Canada

Newcomers are particularly impacted by the cost of dental care because they are more likely to work low wage part-time jobs or in “gig” work that does not offer dental insurance.

In fact, it was noted in a Statistics Canada report released last March that, “While part-time employment levels increased by 113,000 for immigrant workers and 49,000 for temporary foreign workers (TFWs), part-time employment levels declined by 126,000 for Canadian-born workers. Collectively, immigrant workers and TFWs more than offset Canadian-born workers’ movement away from part-time lower-skilled employment."

Dental care is a healthcare expense not previously covered by provincial or federal healthcare plans. This means the cost of anything from a routine cleaning and checkup to more advanced procedures such as a root canal or cap, are all paid in full either out-of-pocket by the patient or at least in part through their private insurance.

The cost of a visit to the dentist is typically in line with a fee guide released by a provincial association of dentists. However, these prices are typically suggestions only and individual dentists can charge any amount they deem fair.

In a speech last May by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, she noted that the CDCP is expected to help nine million uninsured Canadians get dental coverage.

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