OTTAWA – Canada’s unions welcome the next phase of the Canadian Dental Care Plan – a much needed program to help address the ongoing affordability crisis many workers and their families are confronted with.
“We applaud the deployment of the second phase of the dental care plan. As part of the supply-and-confidence deal with the NDP, the $13-billion public program is another step forward to a universal public dental care program in Canada,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Public programs like dental care help to alleviate some of the pressures facing working-class families as they struggle to find an affordable place to live, put food on the table or simply afford everyday necessities.”
As of November 2023, close to 400,000 children under 12 years of age have received dental treatment as a result of the federal dental care program. And now, access to dental care will be expanded to millions of Canadians, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in our communities.
With over one in three Canadians reporting a lack of dental insurance and even more indicating they have no access to any form of dental care, this is an important step towards a public care system that will improve Canadians’ health and wellbeing and make life more affordable, building resiliency across our society and economy.
“In this new phase of the program, the government must ensure that all qualifying Canadians have access to the dental care they need, when they need it. The dental care plan must be equitable and accessible,” added Bruske. “We know that a disproportionate number of persons with disabilities and seniors in Canada live in poverty; we must ensure the dental care program is inclusive and available.”
Canada’s unions will also be looking at the federal government to be vigilant and ensure employers do not download the costs of dental care from private health plan benefits packages onto the public dental care program.
“While we celebrate this announcement today, there are still too many families that have to make impossible choices every time they have to renew their prescription medications. Our future depends on investment in care now and that includes access to the medicines that people need,” said Bruske. “That’s why we will continue to pressure the federal government to establish a single-payer universal public prescription drug plan that provides coverage for all residents.”
The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent more than 3 million workers across the country.