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Letter to the editor: Couples shortchanged under new dental care plan

The Canadian government’s new dental care plan aims to assist about nine million Canadians who don’t have private or public dental insurance. Eligibility is based on combining the net income of married or common-law couples, and this reduces their entitlements compared to a single person.

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone is entitled to the same benefits provided by laws or government policies. The dental plan provides no justification for making an exception to this principle. An option to achieve parity between a couple and a single person would be to eliminate the ‘combined family net income’ concept and treat the eligibility of each partner separately.

With net family incomes less than $90,000, benefits are as follows: Below $70,000, 100 per cent coverage of costs; between $70,000-$79,999, 60 per cent coverage of costs; between $80,000-$89,999, 40 per cent coverage of costs. Earn over $90,000 net income, and there is no coverage.

If a couple’s combined net income is less than $70,000 or if only one partner has income, then their coverage will be the same as a single person. However, inequities arise when you compare a single person to a wife and a husband each having $35,000 net income. The single person will receive 100 per cent coverage up to $70,000 and 60 per cent and 40 per cent co-pay up to $90,000. The spouses’ combined income is $70,000 with only 60 per cent coverage. If each partner has $45,000 income, they reach $90,000 and are ineligible. Children’s dental costs are reduced or disqualified accordingly.

There are further inequities between couples versus singles when actual payouts are calculated. Consider a single person with a net income of $40,000 and a couple with a combined net income of $80,000. On a $500 dental bill, the single person will receive 100 per cent payment whereas the couple with a $1000 bill will receive only 40 per cent or $200 for each spouse.

Couples who have applied and received a notice from Service Canada stating they will be paid 60 or 40 per cent should visit Canada.ca/dental or call 1-833-537-4342 and appeal the decision. They should insist that their individual coverage should be 100 per cent, the same as it would be for a single person with the same net income. Partners, whose combined net income is over $90,000 but under $180,000 should apply and demand that they each be eligible on the same basis as a single person.

Everyone affected by the inequities of the dental plan should make their views known to their federal member of Parliament. Concerns should also be expressed to the leaders of the Canadian political parties, as well as the honourable Mark Holland, minister of Health Canada. Letters can be mailed postage free to federal members of Parliament. Note: Do not confuse this plan with the Canada Dental Benefit for children which is scheduled to end June 30, 2024.
Donald Dunn, Ormstown

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