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Liberals obscure on verification standards for brand spanking new federal dental-care profit

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Officers mentioned the cash can be made accessible up entrance, earlier than a toddler sees the dentist, and fogeys will not need to robotically ship receipts or return any unused cash.

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OTTAWA – The Liberal federal government said Tuesday that its new dental care benefits will provide advance payments to eligible families before they take children to a dentist appointment, but details of how the government will verify that the money is being used for dental care remained unclear.

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The new two-year Canadian Dental Benefit will provide $650 per family per year, and for two years, cover the cost of dental care for uninsured children whose families earn less than $70,390 per year. Families who earn between $70,390 and $90,000 can get $390 or $260, depending on their income.

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The government will provide the money up front, before an eligible child sees a dentist, and parents who apply will not have to provide receipts or return any money not spent on dental care, government officials said during a technical briefing on Tuesday.

Families will be asked to provide information about when they plan to take the child to the dentist and contact information for the dentist or dental hygienist. The funds will then be issued to them within three to five days.

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Tuesday that there will be “measures to watch and implement the principles that should be adopted” so that Canadians can access benefits.

He added that $650 “could look like some huge cash” but it may not be when it comes to the cost of dental care. He said it could be a “humble begin” in cases where a child is seeing a dentist for the first time ever.

Parents who meet the criteria will be able to apply through the Canada Revenue Agency. They will be asked to confirm that they do not have private dental insurance, and to provide the name of the employer, which officials said would be one way the CRA could check whether an individual had private insurance.

Families will not have to automatically submit their receipts for dental care, but they will need to provide proof if the CRA requests it later, as well as proof of other eligibility criteria. If parents have unused money after the dentist, they will not be required to return it.

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Duclos’ office referred questions asking for more details about the government’s verification procedures to Health Canada, which in turn said the questions should be directed to the Canada Revenue Agency. The TRA did not respond to a request for comment by the deadline.

The dental care program is the cornerstone of the Liberal Supply and Trust Agreement with the National Democratic Party, which states that the National Party will support the Liberal minority government and keep it in power until 2025. The deal envisages a dental care program that will be available to families with annual incomes less than 90 $1,000 and will be fully implemented by 2025. Duclos said the two-year program the government described on Tuesday is temporary, and will be followed by a “complete long-term dental care program.”

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“We hope that the proposed laws will cross rapidly by the Home of Representatives and be supported by all events in order that households and eligible youngsters can start receiving their advantages in 2022,” he said.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters that his party was not concerned about flexibility on how to structure the first phase of the program, “in change for stringent commitments to … a federally administered dental plan that covers Canadians for part two and past.”

Conservative MPs said on Tuesday they were concerned that increased government spending would lead to inflation. Michael Barrett said the Conservatives will have a chance to consider the text of the bills introduced by the government on Tuesday at its caucus meeting tomorrow. “It can be crucial that any measures taken by the federal government will assist Canadians however (it won’t) additionally result in a rise in the price of dwelling,” he mentioned.

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“What is clear to us is that there are often inflationary measures. We will analyze them more clearly to see if there is a positive impact on citizens,” said Pierre-Paul Hoss.

The Dental Care Program is one of two bills aimed at providing support to low-income Canadians introduced by the Liberal government on the first day of Tuesday’s parliamentary session. If passed, the legislation would also double the six-month GST credit and provide a one-time $500 increase in the Canadian housing benefit.

The three measures will cost a total of $4.5 billion, of which $3.1 billion is new money in addition to what was already set out in the 2022 federal budget. The dental advantage will cost $938 million, which is the money the government budgeted in April.

This is not enough to raise inflation, Associate Finance Minister Randy Poissonault said on Tuesday. Spending just over $3 billion compared to an economy of $2.6 to $2.7 trillion, he said, is like throwing a stone into a lake. The lake is not sinking and that is what we are very keen to do.”

– With additional reporting from Catherine Levsk

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