Health minister compares dentists’ ‘fears’ on dental-care program to medicare rollout

OTTAWA — Health Minister Mark Holland says “concerns and fears” dentists are expressing about a national dental-care plan are similar to those doctors had when Canada launched medicare in the 1960s.

He is defending his government’s back-and-forth negotiations with dentists after dental associations said some of their members are hesitant to participate.

The program is expected to provide dental coverage to uninsured families who earn a household income of under $90,000. 

It is being rolled out in phases, beginning with the eldest Canadians and expanding to all seniors 65 and older in May, when applicants are expected to begin receiving coverage. 

The program, which the government forecasts will cost $13 billion over five years, is a key part of the Liberals’ political pact with the NDP. 

Dentists and hygienists’ associations have raised concerns about Ottawa’s pay structure, saying the proposed fees are lower than what patients are currently being billed. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2024. 

The Canadian Press