NDP calls out Poilievre and Conservatives for opposing children’s dental benefit while MPs enjoy comprehensive coverage

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says it is “ridiculous” for Conservative MPs to vote against a proposed dental benefit for children from low-income families when they enjoy much more comprehensive dental care cover for their own families.

“Conservative MPs plan to vote against providing dental care for children when their leader has had publicly paid dental care for almost two decades,” Singh said on Wednesday, referring to Pierre Poilievre, who has been an MP since 2004.

Conservatives have signaled they will oppose Bill C-31, which would provide a benefit of up to $650 per child under 12 in families with incomes below $90,000. Last week, the party tried to pass a motion in the House of Commons to scrap the legislation.

Singh says the benefit is intended as a first step towards a broader national dental program that the NDP has demanded as a condition of continuing to keep the Liberal government in power until 2025. He predicted the program would be expanded by the end of next year to include older people. , people under the age of 18, and people living with disabilities.

In contrast to the planned benefit, MPs from all parties are automatically enrolled in the Public Service Dental Plan which provides 90 percent coverage for basic dental services, up to $2,500 per family member annually.

The plan, which also covers federal government employees and members of the RCMP, offers an additional 50 percent coverage for orthodontia, up to a lifetime maximum of $2,500 per family member.

MPs premiums for dental insurance are paid by the House of Commons.

Rather than launch a new programme, the Conservatives say the government should focus on lowering the overall cost of living by cutting payroll deductions and the carbon tax. They also say the bill is an unwelcome intrusion on provincial and territorial jurisdiction over the provision of health care.

“It’s not a dental care program and the federal government shouldn’t be providing services without consulting with the provinces,” conservative health critic Michael Barrett said Wednesday. He said the government should focus on providing more long-term health funding to provinces instead of launching its own dental program.

Barrett points out that most provinces and territories already provide dental care coverage for children in low-income families.

The maximum income allowed to qualify under most provincial plans is much lower than the proposed federal plan. And the provincial programs do not cover the scope of services enjoyed by deputies and their families through the public service plan.

In Ontario, the Healthy Smiles program provides coverage for children under the age of 17, but for a family with two children, eligibility is limited to those with annual income of less than $26,817.

Caught in the middle are working parents who don’t receive private dental coverage through their job and don’t qualify for provincial plans because their income is above the cut-off threshold.

“Many people are slightly above that income level, so they don’t qualify for these programs, but their family income is still too low to survive, regardless of whether they can afford dental care,” said Shahrouz Yazdani, an Ottawa dentist. .

Reimbursement rates for dentists providing services through the Ontario plan are so low that some can’t afford to accept patients, Yazdani said.

“Our office accepts them, but we can only do it a limited number of times a month, because it’s not financially sustainable.”

Quebec provides some dental services to children under the age of 10, while Alberta provides dental coverage for children on a means-tested basis with cut-off levels below those established in C-31.

The proposed federal dental benefit differs from conventional private insurance in that qualifying families are not required to submit a receipt and must sign only a certificate to collect the $650 payment.

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