Freeland admits creating a new dental insurance program is 'complicated'

Freeland admits creating a new dental insurance program is ‘complicated’

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government is working hard to provide dental coverage for children by the end of this year, but acknowledges that creating new programs is “complicated”.

The Liberals promised the New Democratic Party (NDP) last March a new dental program for low- and middle-income families, as part of a “support and trust agreement” aimed at allowing the Liberal minority government to remain in power, if possible, until 2025.

Under the agreement, the government has until the end of the year to provide some form of coverage for children under 12 with a family income of less than $90,000, or else the NDP has promised to pull out.

Several groups have expressed concerns about this extremely narrow year-end deadline. Sources familiar with the program say, however, that the government is working on a temporary solution, which would provide direct reimbursement to eligible families, while the program is permanent.

“As we have seen, for example, when childcare arrangements are being rolled out across the country, introducing new services to Canadians is complicated,” Ms Freeland said when asked about the plan. Temporary, at a news conference in Toronto. I think Canadians understand that. »

Ms Freeland did not confirm or deny the government’s plans to take interim measure, but said the Liberals were committed to this dental programme, and it was a commitment she was “happy to make.”

The government can enter into dental care agreements similar to those it has with provinces for the National Child Care Program. Ottawa then offered the money to the county governments to run their own program, according to a specific set of criteria. But this path seems increasingly unlikely.

Federal officials also asked dental care experts about other methods. For example, the government can outsource the management of the national program to a private insurance company, or assign this work to federal officials.

“Children shouldn’t have rotten teeth just because their parents don’t have enough money to go to the dentist – I think it’s that simple,” Ms Freeland said.

Ms. Freeland states, however, that her government had already made a clear commitment when it committed $5.3 billion over five years, in its most recent budget, to this programme.

Last week, new Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh said he was confident the dental program would be in place by the end of the year, as stipulated in the agreement he signed with the Liberals.

Ms Freeland said on Tuesday her government was working “very hard” to deliver on its promise.

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