Excerpts of an article published in the Western Standard
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by Christopher Oldcorn
The department of Health said it has concerns as the cabinet expands its national dental care program, private employers currently offering dental care to most Canadians nationwide may transfer the expense to taxpayers. “It is something we are concerned about,” Lindy Van Amburg, director general of the task force, told the Senate Social Affairs committee.
Bill C-47 the Budget Implementation Act states all employers offering dental coverage must report this information to the Canada Revenue Agency by December 31. According to Blacklock’s Reporter, failure to comply could result in fines of $100. Van Amburg described this requirement as a data collection exercise.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, approximately 32% of Canadians do not have dental insurance. The current government program provides a tax-free payment of $650 per year for children under 12 in households with incomes below $70,000. The Cabinet suggested expanding the program to include individuals of all ages living in households with incomes below $70,000. Additionally, households earning between $70,000 and $90,000 would be eligible for reduced grants under the proposed plan.
“Are there any provisions or mechanisms the government can use to monitor and prevent the practice of clawing back coverage by insurance companies?” asked Sen. Sharon Burey (ON).
Parliament could not force employers to keep their plans, said Van Amburg. “The levers that exist in provinces — we’ve seen them used in Québec and other places, where they can legislate or regulate the coverage employers need to provide — is provincial and territorial jurisdiction,” said Van Amburg. “Those levers will not be available the same way for a federally delivered plan. But certainly, it's something we are concerned about and looking at very carefully as we finalize the design of the plan.”
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) expressed concerns on October 27 during testimony at the Senate National Finance committee. The CDHA was worried employers might choose to end private dental plans to save money.