Ontario NDP promises provincial dental plan to many uninsured families

The Ontario NDP is promising free or low-cost dental care for all uninsured low- and middle-income families if elected next month.

“Ontarians with a household income of less than $90,000 will be fully covered, with no coinsurance. Your OHIP card will be all you need when you go to the dentist,” says a campaign document outlining the details of the pledgewhich the party refers to as the Ontario Dental Care Plan.

People with household incomes between $90,000 and $200,000 would receive dental coverage on a sliding scale, with higher income households subject to a 50% co-payment of costs.

The NDP says the program would save a family of four $1,240 a year on basic exams and filling a cavity, and if both children need braces, the plan could saving them over $13,000. An older couple would save up to $360 per year, plus $2,400 if they need dentures.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath unveiled details of the plan at a morning press conference in Scarborough. His promise of dental coverage was mentioned in the NDP election platform released on April 25, but the document contained few details.

Horwath was greeted by a group of students as she arrived at her campaign stop in Scarborough. This is the second day in a row that New Democrats have focused their efforts on ridings in the critical Greater Toronto Area. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The plan would cover a range of dental services, including checkups, cleanings, x-rays, fillings and root canals, as well as dentures and braces for non-cosmetic purposes.

New Democrats are touting the proposal as a way to help Ontarians deal with the rising cost of living. More than a third of workers in the province do not have employer-paid dental benefits.

The party says the plan would be in place before the promised federal dental coverage is fully rolled out, and once the national program is up and running, the provincial plan will “integrate” with it.

The NDP says the program would cost the province $680 million in 2022-23. With a promise from the federal government to fund a national dental care programthe NDP sees the provincial contribution to the plan eventually decrease to $380 million.

“Ontario will always contribute because our plan is improved,” Horwath said Thursday.

Neither the Progressive Conservatives nor the Liberals promised full-fledged dental coverage like the NDP plan, but both floated the idea of ​​creating “portable” benefit programs that workers could keep no matter what. or their employment status, with dental coverage potentially included.

Ontarians make more than 200,000 annual visits to doctors’ offices and more than 60,000 trips to hospital emergency rooms for dental problems, costing the province’s health care system about $38 million a year, figures show. of the provincial government quoted by the NDP.

The Ontario NDP election platform, released April 25, promised a provincial dental program, but did not specify details of coverage. (Alex Lupul/CBC)