Dentists in London say they’re ready to treat more children now eligible for the Canada Dental Benefit which starts this month and will give those earning the least in the country a chance for proper dental care.
“Ultimately, this is for people who don’t have any access to dental plans,” said Dr. Giulio Spagnuolo, head dentist at We Smile Dentistry in west London. While Ontario already has social assistance plans and some workers have regular dental care insurance, the new federal benefit would bring in more Londoners who weren’t eligible before, Spagnuolo said.
“This is for the people in essence that slipped through the cracks. They’re not there. They’re maybe earning too much for the social plans, but their employer doesn’t help them with a private plan,” he added.
The Canada Dental Benefit will impact half a million children under the age of 12 who are now eligible to receive payment to help cover dental costs.
Families earning less than $70,000 a year can get up to $650 per year for the next two years under the coverage, while those earning more than $70,000 (and under $90,000) can still qualify and get $350 per child per year for the next two years.
Families with incomes between $80,000 and $89,999 can get $260 per child per year for the next two years.
Starting today, parents can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website. Only those registered for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) are eligible to sign up.
Early access to dental health care will help dentists detect early orthodontic problems in children as their teeth develop, Spagnuolo said.
“My hope is that any problems that arise are addressed when they’re very, very small and very easy and a lot less expensive. It’s easier on the child,” said Spaguolo, who has practiced dentistry for 35 years and hopes more families are encouraged to make their first appointments.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University to make the announcement about the plan launching.
“This is an important step in the right direction to make sure Canadian children get the dental care they need,” said Trudeau.
The Canada Dental Benefit is a first step before the federal government implements a broader plan for families. Trudeau outlined a longer dental care program for families earning under $90,000 that is set to roll out by the end of 2023. The dental program would fully take shape by 2025, he added.
“In the weeks to come, we will see dentists treating these patients as families take advantage of the benefit for their children,” said Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, vice dean and director at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
“Yesterday, these families had nothing and now they have real dollars in their pockets to access care that they may need.”
The benefit gives children under 12 a chance at early intervention and an influx of calls will be a good sign, said We Smile Dentistry assistant Kelly Bloxom.
“All children need to be well looked after,” she said. :I think a lot of parents don’t realise that their primary baby teeth need attention too, so this is going to shed light on the importance of dental care for children,” she said.