May 24, 2013

Public Dental Coverage in Other Provinces and Territories -- Part One: What's Available for Kids and Seniors

Written by Josie Newman

Similar to Ontario, the rest of Canada's provinces and territories have strengths and weaknesses in the public dental programs they offer.

Healthy Smiles Ontario, which provides general dental coverage to children of families with annual income up to $20,000, has counterparts in several other provinces. Interestingly, though, they all have a higher annual income cut-off for eligibility. This means there is definitely room for improvement in the Healthy Smiles Program.  

In New Brunswick, for example, the income cut-off for Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision is $22,020 for a two-person family all the way up to $41,196 for a seven-person family.

In British Columbia, Healthy Kids gives basic dental care to children under 19 from families which make less than $22,000. Low-income families who make more than the cut-off can still get assistance from Healthy Kids through BC's Medical Services Plan (MSP), but must pay premiums which are graduated to income.

In Saskatchewan, low-income kids get free dental coverage through Family Health Benefits -- the cut-off is income of $29,291 for one to three children up to $51,313 for 10 to 15 children, while in Alberta, the Child Health Benefit Plan offers free dental care to similar children who are 18 and under, or 20 and under if they still live with their families. The income cut-off in Alberta is $24,397 for a single parent with one child or $29,285 for a couple with one child up to $44,000 for a couple with four children.

Even better, though, is the free dental care for all children, regardless of family income, offered in the Yukon, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Newfoundland.  The ages covered varies by province, from 10 and under in Manitoba and Nova Scotia to 17 in some parts of the Yukon which means that every child with free coverage in these provinces has a fair shot at a healthy smile.  

In PEI, children three through 17 receive free coverage if their family's income is $30,000 or less; families with a higher income must kick in 20% of the costs.  

Unlike Ontario's lack of coverage for seniors, those over 65 in Alberta get dental assistance to a maximum of $5,000 over a five year period, as long as they are financially eligible -- the income cut-off for singles is $25,000 while it is $50,000 for a couple.

Prince Edward Island has a dental program for residents of long-term care facilities for preveHYPERLINK ""nHYPERLINK ""tative services only; fillings, extractions and dentures are paid for by the residents. YHYPERLINK ""ukon offers free dental care to a maximum of $1,400 every two years for all seniors regardless of income, while the Northwest Territories offers free dental care to non-native and Metis residents over 60 through its Extended Health Benefits program.

Nunavut offers public dental coverage to seniors through the Community Dental Health Services Research Unit of the University of Toronto which pays up to a maximum of $1,000 per year.

In Part Two, we'll examine what's offered to adults between 18 and 65 in Canada, to First Nations and other special groups, as well as look at some community programs in various provinces.     


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