Update, December 11, 2023: The federal government has announced the launch of the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) and indicated that invitations will begin to be sent to eligible Canadians starting in December 2023. Health Canada has published a backgrounder with additional information on the CDCP.
The application process and eligibility criteria are available on the federal government's Canadian Dental Care Plan web page.
Please note: No proactive action is needed for enrollment at this time, except for filing taxes for the prior year. Eligible seniors will automatically receive letters inviting them to apply by phone.
Should you wait until the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is in place to see the dentist? Read why you shouldn’t delay dental treatment, and what else we know about the federal government’s program.
Click on the questions below for the answer.
In early 2022, the federal government announced its plans to create a national dental program, the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP). The government committed to:
The CDCP will be available to families with an annual income of less than $90,000, with no co-payment (that is, pay for a portion of their dental care under the CDCP) for those with an annual income under $70,000.
Dental care under the CDCP is expected to start in May 2024. The coverage date will be different for each person. Patients will be required to make a co-payment depending on their adjusted family net income, as follows:
It is important to know that this is a government dental benefit; it is not a free dental program. While Health Canada encourages dentists to bill patients based on the CDCP benefit, dentists can bill their usual and customary fees. Health Canada asks patients to confirm the fees with their dentist when booking their appointment.
The CDCP is not intended to replace existing workplace or private dental benefits.
The BCDA does not run or manage the CDCP. We are not involved in any decisions about patient eligibility or enrolment.
The federal government has announced that, starting in December 2023, seniors who may be eligible may receive letters inviting them to apply, with instructions on how to validate their eligibility and apply by telephone. Letters from the government will be sent according to the following age groups:
In May 2024, an online application portal will be open for seniors 65 and older. If you have a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate or have a child under the age of 18, you will be able to apply online as of June 2024. All remaining eligible Canadians will be able to apply online in 2025. For more information, visit canada.ca/dental.
Health Canada has stated that the following services could be covered under the CDCP, with some services only becoming available in the fall of 2024:
The specifics of what exactly will be covered under the CDCP have not yet been released.
No. The CDCP is designed for Canadian residents who do not have dental benefits. This is defined as coverage:
The Canada Revenue Agency now requires employers to report on their T4/T4A whether their employees and their families had access to dental insurance coverage, including spending and wellness accounts.
We don’t know and this should concern us all. Two-thirds of Canadians have great dental benefits from their work, school, or other group plan. These plans give them a choice of dentist, and the right to choose what dental care they get.
Dentists believe that the CDCP should improve access to care for people who don’t have benefits. The CDCP should not take away the benefits that people already have.
A recent study showed that a third of Canadians would not support a dental care plan which causes them to lose their employer-provided dental coverage. This is why we need the federal government to tell us what they are planning to do to protect your existing dental benefits.
The government has stated that the CDCP is not intended to replace existing workplace or private dental benefits. The BCDA strongly encourages employers and other groups to keep the dental benefits for their employees and members, so they don’t lose access to care.
The interim Canada Dental Benefit is intended to help lower dental costs for eligible families earning less than $90,000 per year. Parents and guardians can apply if the child receiving dental care is under 12 years old and does not have access to a private dental insurance plan.
Depending on your adjusted family net income, a tax-free payment of $260, $390, or $650 is available for each eligible child. This interim dental benefit is only available for 2 periods. You can get a maximum of 2 payments for each eligible child. Benefit payments are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The second benefit period is for children under 12 years old as of July 1, 2023, and receive dental care between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.
Children on existing Provincial, Territorial or Federal dental plans remain eligible to apply, if they meet the eligibility criteria and Have out of pocket expenses for dental treatment that are not fully covered by these dental plans.
Learn more about the Canada Dental Benefit here:
Ready to apply? Visit the application portal on the federal government website.
Don’t delay treatments or your dental appointments!
We understand some people are thinking of delaying dental care or rethinking their benefit coverage, hoping the costs will be covered by the CDCP.
It’s better to continue getting regular dental checkups now to catch problems before they become painful and expensive to treat, and apply for the plan when you are eligible to do so.
For more information on preventing dental problems, visit our Prevention page.
Yes. We know that provincial and territorial programs do not cover dental care needs for children under 12 equally across Canada, and that in some cases, the programs focus only on emergency needs.
Children under 12 who are currently covered by provincial or territorial programs are still eligible for the interim Canada Dental Benefit so long as they have out-of-pocket costs for dental care services—costs which are not reimbursed under another federal, provincial or territorial government program—and if their family meets all of the criteria to qualify for the benefit.
Families should apply to their provincial or territorial program first (if applicable), and then, if there are remaining out-of-pocket costs that were not reimbursed by their province or territory, they can apply to the Canada Dental Benefit.
However, families whose needs are met by their provincial or territorial programs and do not have out-of-pocket costs are not eligible for the benefit and should not apply.
It’s very important to have an open dialogue with your dentist. Your dentist might be able to set up treatment and payment options that work with your financial situation. Talk to them to see what can be done to help.
Download and print this 11"x17" factsheet (PDF, English) from Health Canada on your printer. It outlines the main aspects of the benefit in an easy-to-understand graphic. Also available in these languages:
Dentists across the country share a common goal: to promote optimal dental and oral health for all Canadians. The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is an historic opportunity to give all people in Canada increased access to dental care. If done right, the CDCP could be one of Canada’s greatest achievements in public health.
As the experts in oral health – and the healthcare providers who deliver dental care – we know what a good dental program should look like, and we want to help the federal government make the CDCP a success.
That is why dental associations across Canada came together to develop A Proposed Framework for the Canadian Dental Care Plan (PDF). It is a comprehensive and actionable framework for a strong dental and oral health care program based on data, research, and input from dental experts.
A successful CDCP should (click headings to expand):
Two-thirds of Canadians already enjoy world-class dental care, but some people must make difficult choices between their dental health and other important expenses. The CDCP is meant to help the latter group – providing dental care for those who don’t have insurance through their work, school, or other group coverage.
If employers start cutting or ending dental care benefits for their employees, it puts the whole program – and your oral health – at risk:
The government needs to make sure businesses continue to offer dental care coverage to their employees so that the CDCP can help the remaining one-third of Canadians who don’t have any dental insurance.
Patients should be able to choose their dentist. That is why the CDCP should be delivered through existing dental offices. You should be able to stay with your dentist, who knows you and your background. If you don’t have a regular dentist, you should be able to choose one who practices in your community, whose office meets your needs, and who, in some cases, can speak your language.
Patients accessing care under the CDCP should be able to get the dental care they need, when they need it – the same way people with workplace benefits do. This means the CDCP should allow patients to make decisions about their own care in partnership with their dentist. It should also have easy enrollment or registration, a quick claims process, and minimal paperwork.
Most dental offices have electronic systems to submit claims and payments between patients, dentists, and insurance companies. Most people do not have to fill out forms and wait for the government to approve their care before they can receive it. An accessible public dental care program should operate in the same way.
Most provinces and territories already have public dental care programs for families and children with low incomes, seniors and/or people with disabilities. We know the ins-and-outs of these programs because we treat the patients who depend on them. We can help inform the federal government so that the CDCP and existing provincial/territorial government dental programs work together for the people who rely on them.
Provincial and territorial dental associations have suggested fee guides developed by third-party experts. The suggested fee guides help dentists independently set fees for their practices that are fair, transparent, and predictable to both dentists and patients. By aligning the CDCP with the fee guides, dentists can continue to provide effective, equitable, high-quality dental care that all patients expect and deserve, regardless of their income.
In addition to the proposed framework, we urge the federal government to:
There are already serious shortages of dental hygienists and dental assistants across Canada. The CDCP will dramatically increase staffing demands in dental practices. Without enough of these skilled professionals, you could face delays in getting the dental care you need.
Until the federal government can deliver a strong CDCP, we recommend at least a temporary expansion of an initiative that is already working for Canadians – the Canada Dental Benefit. This is a fixed dollar amount that a patient can use to be reimbursed for dental-related expenses. Nearly nine out of 10 Canadians support the Canada Dental Benefit, and public surveys suggest that most would support an oral health spending account as a permanent solution.
The dentists of Canada want to champion a CDCP that will respect patients, providers, and taxpayers. We all deserve a plan that works.
Download or print the above Checklist and Overview (PDF).