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What You Need to Know About the Canada Dental Benefit

Earlier this year, plans were announced to create the Canadian Dental Care Plan for Canadians with a household income of under $90,000. As a first step, on December 1, 2022 the federal government launches the Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) for families with children who are 12-years-old or under and who have incurred out-of-pocket dental expenses starting on October 1, 2022.

The CDB is a significant investment into dental care and is designed to bring immediate financial relief to Canadians as the federal government works towards a comprehensive national plan.

You and your patients may be wondering how the CDB works, where to apply, and who is eligible. Below are key points to know and where to direct your patients.

How does it work?

  • The CDB provides eligible parents and guardians with direct, upfront tax-free payments to cover dental expenses for their children who are 12 years old or under as of December 1, 2022.
  • Parents and guardians will have to confirm that their child is not covered by a private dental services plan (i.e., insurance for dental coverage based on employment or purchased privately) and that the CDB will be used to pay for out-of-pocket dental expenses. They will also need to keep their receipts to prove this.
  • Payments to parents and guardians will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Because payments are direct to families, there is no role for dentists in the administration of payments. Dental practices may be asked to confirm information submitted by the applicant (e.g., receipts).
  • Parents and guardians will pay the dental office for services rendered and will be reimbursed by the CRA. Parents and guardians can apply for the CDB before their dental appointment.

What services are covered?

  • The CDB can be used for any oral health care service provided by a regulated oral health care professional licensed to practice in Ontario.
  • Dentists can use their usual and customary fees when treating eligible patients for the CDB.

How does this work with other government dental programs like Healthy Smiles Ontario?

  • A patient does not automatically become ineligible for the CDB due to coverage under other provincial or federal programs. However, CDB applicants must have out-of-pocket expenses and the CDB would not be available for dental care services that have or will be fully paid or reimbursed by another provincial or federal program.
  • What this means is that once a service has been rendered and paid for under a provincial program like Healthy Smiles Ontario, there can be no further billing for the same service. However, if a patient is willing to pay out of pocket for a service (i.e., they will not receive the same service through Healthy Smiles Ontario) dentists may bill the patient a fee for the service. In this scenario, provided the patient is otherwise eligible for the CDB, patients would be able to apply funds from the CDB to pay for such a service.
  • Dentists in Ontario are not required to participate in social or government dental programs. The decision as to whether to participate remains with the dentist, in keeping with the terms of the applicable program and the dentists’ professional obligations (e.g., regarding patients with oral health care emergencies).

Who is eligible?

  • Families with children under 12 years of age who don’t have access to a private dental services plan (as defined above) and whose family income is less than $90,000 a year. Depending on the family’s adjusted income, a tax-free payment of $260, $390, or $650 will be available for each eligible child.
  • Eligibility will be determined by the CRA, not the dental office.
  • This interim dental benefit is only available for two years, and families can get a maximum of two payments for each eligible child. The first benefit period is for children under 12 years old as of December 1, 2022 who receive dental care between October 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. The application period for the second year will end on June 30, 2024.

How can patients apply?

  • The quickest way to apply will be through the CRA’s My Account. Eligible families who are unable to access the Internet can apply through CRA’s client contact centre at 1-800-715-8836. Patients can complete some steps on the site now to make it easier to apply on or after December 1.
  • Most applicants can expect to receive their payments within five business days if they are enrolled for direct deposit, and within 10 business days if they are requesting a cheque by mail.
  • Applications can be made in advance of eligible expenses being incurred (i.e. an application for the benefit can be made ahead of a dental appointment, with the intent that the benefit will be utilized at that appointment) and the CDB can be used retroactively to cover any dental care expenses from October 1, 2022.

How do I educate my patients about the CDB?

What if I have more questions? Contact us at advocacy@oda.ca.

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