Canada’s new dental care program: Many dentists not registered

A new dental care program in Canada offers the hope of free care to millions of people, but even though 1.7 million people have signed up for the program, only about 5,000 dentists have done the same.

“I just thought my dentist would sign up. Why wouldn't he sign up?” Alexandra Morton told CTV News Toronto.

“The benefits sound great, but why does it have to be with a participating provider? Why not my own dentist?

However, some associations representing dentists have expressed concerns about the terms and conditions of the scheme, claiming too many details have yet to be determined.

“We haven't seen the details yet, and as far as we know, the devil is in the details,” Dr. Brock Nicolucci, president of the Ontario Dental Association, said in an interview Monday.

Nicolucci said dentists are also concerned about increased paperwork, fee structures and the terms and conditions of the plans.

“We are working hard to resolve this issue with the federal government, but these are concerns that we have raised and we have not resolved this issue yet,” he said.

Dr. Joel Antel, president of the Canadian Dental Association, expressed similar concerns to Nicolucci in an interview with CTV News in Toronto.

“People walk into a dental office and some feel like they can do whatever they want for free, but that's not the case,” Antle said.

“To be fair,” he continued, “this is a very ambitious undertaking that usually takes years to launch, and [government] Trying to do this in a few months.

In January, federal Health Minister Mark Holland told CTV's Power Play the Liberal government was working with dentists to address their concerns.

“They're not going to get everything they want, and we're not going to get everything we want. That's the nature of negotiations,” Holland said.

As for Morton, she was told that if her dentist didn't participate in the program, she should find a dentist who would, but she didn't want to switch.

“He had all the information about me and knew what was done to my teeth. I didn't want to change, that was my biggest complaint,” Morton said.

The federal government says dentists can provide services under the new dental care scheme without a formal contract. For information on who is eligible for the scheme, you can check the government website.

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