Canada Dental Plan and Your Group Benefit Plan
In 2022, the Canadian federal government announced a new initiative called the Canada Dental Benefit, which is meant to make dental care more accessible. This new government initiative is the first phase that offers Canadian families better access to dental care. According to a 2018 report from Statistics Canada, over 39% of Canadians do not have dental insurance and access to oral health upkeep, and the Canada Dental Benefit is attempting to close this gap. The federally planned dental care program has been implemented as of December 1, 2022, but some Canadians may be unaware of who is currently eligible to receive the benefits from this proposed program and how it will impact their current group benefits plan.
Here are some pieces of information you’ll want to know about the Canada Dental Benefit as the government gradually rolls out this new program.
What is the Canada Dental Benefit?
In March of 2022, the plan to launch the Canada Dental Benefit and the eventual implementation of a national pharmacare program was announced as a part of Bill C-31, which is the act of respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing. These programs are the culmination of a confidence agreement between the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal government of Canada that hinges on the NDP supporting the Liberals on all matters with confidence until the dissolution of parliament, which is estimated to occur around 2025. As of right now, the first phase of this national rollout has only been developed and executed for a certain demographic of the Canadian population.
Who Can Recieve the Canada Dental Benefit?
Phase one of the Canada Dental Benefit is directed toward children under 12 years of age from households with an annual net income of under $90,000 and who do not have access to dental insurance. Children eligible to receive these benefits will be provided tax-free payments that range from $260, $390, or $650. These varied payments are provided upfront for dental expenses, and the amount will ultimately depend on the adjusted net annual household income.
Dates and Administering the Benefit
Although this program was only recently launched in December, the first phase of the Canada Dental Benefit will still cover dental expenses for children under 12 from October 1, 2022, and will continue to cover dental costs until June 30, 2023. Families eligible for this benefit will receive two payments for each child in the household, and these tax-free payments will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency.
Impact on Group Benefits Plans
When the Canada Dental Benefit was initially announced last March, Canadian employers had to pause redesigning their benefits plans and begin to factor in the potential implications of the new federal benefit program. One of the issues that employers are facing with this new government initiative is that the dental plan is only for children in its first phase and not for actual employees. Further, employers are unable to remove employees within the $90,000 income threshold from a group benefits plan, as the employee and their spouse require full coverage. Another issue presents itself with how employees are to coordinate the government-proposed dental plan with the current group benefits plan without double dipping. Additionally, the federal plan will be enforced prior to the use of an insured plan.
As the rollout continues over the next few years, employers are estimating that this benefit will only cover the basics of oral health and that employee group benefit plans can develop a dental plan that incorporates the individual needs of the employer and their employees. It still remains unclear how the Canada Dental Benefit will impact the development of group benefits plans, and the gap in dental coverage from the federal government and employment benefits is yet to be determined.
At Health Risk Services, we help managers of benefits plans make strategic decisions to craft cost-effective personalized plans that can assist you and your organization to address the “Presenteeism” challenge. Whether the solution of preference for your company is adding additional support programs, renovating your existing coverage, or crafting intentional messaging, Health Risk is here to help!
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