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As of June 27, Canadian families with children under the age of 18 may be qualified for the new Canada Dental Care Plan (CDCP).

As is frequently provided by employment benefits for full-time workers, the CDCP intends to lessen the financial burden of paying for dental treatment out of pocket for people below a specific income threshold without a private dental plan.

The strategy is being implemented gradually. Beginning in December 2023, seniors over 65 who qualify could use the CDCP.

Children under the age of eighteen and persons with disabilities may use the plan during the second phase. This implies that qualifying immigrants will not be responsible for their kids’ dental care while they are in the 12–18 age range. Previously, children under the age of twelve were covered by the Canada Dental Benefit.

The plan will be available for use by all qualified Canadians who are still living as of an undated date in 2025.

As a temporary resident, are I eligible?

Service Canada states that in order to use the CDCP, a user must fulfill several requirements. They have to:

  • 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.

The price of dental care in Canada

Because they are more likely to perform low-paying part-time jobs or “gig” work that does not provide dental insurance, newcomers are disproportionately affected by the cost of dental treatment.

As a matter of fact, a March 2018 Statistics Canada report pointed out that “part-time employment levels declined by 126,000 for Canadian-born workers, while they increased by 113,000 for immigrant workers and 49,000 for temporary foreign workers (TFWs).” The shift away from part-time, lower-skilled jobs among Canadian-born workers has been more than neutralized by the combined presence of immigrant workers and TFWs.”

One medical expense that was not previously covered by federal or provincial healthcare systems is dental treatment. This means that all procedures, from simple cleanings and examinations to more complex ones like root canals or caps, must be fully paid for by the patient out of pocket or, at the very least, partially through private insurance.

A provincial association of dentists will usually provide a pricing guide, which will determine the approximate cost of a dental visit. These costs, however, are usually merely recommendations, and each dentist is free to charge whatever they think is reasonable.

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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