April 18, 2024 – Ottawa, ON: Today, Dr. Aaron Burry, CEO of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on their study of Bill C-59, the Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023. Dr. Burry took the opportunity to speak about the need to improve the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

We believe in the intent behind this program and want to work with the government to get it right for patients. All Canadians deserve the best oral health care possible. The program needs to be designed so that it works for patients and the dentists and staff who care for them.

CDA has focused on being a constructive partner in the CDCP’s development from the beginning. In February 2023, we published a policy paper—Bridging the Financial Gap in Dental Care—with a proposed CDCP framework. Primarily, we recommended that the CDCP works like any other dental plan. We stressed that patients should be allowed to choose their own dentist, and existing dental plans be safeguarded. The federal government must also ensure the cost of treatment is fully covered and those who provide the care are fully compensated.

Over the past several months, CDA and Provincial and Territorial Dental Associations (PTDAs) have expressed concerns with the current program design to the federal government. A recent survey conducted of 4,000 dentists across Canada shows that 61% said they would not participate in the program. Without the support of the oral health care providers, this program will not succeed—and the millions of patients signing up for the program will not be able to find a dentist.

In his remarks, Dr. Burry outlined three areas of concern:

  1. The CDCP does not provide free dental care and many Canadians are under the impression that it does.
  2. Formal registration under CDCP or the “claim-by-claim” pathway do not work like normal dental plans that other Canadians have and the extensive terms and conditions may be too much for dental offices to take on.
  3. Federal government approvals should not be a part of providing medically necessary care.

Dr. Burry also highlighted how there are still many unknowns with the program. For example, dentists don’t know how Coordination of Benefits with provincial programs will work. Dentists also don’t know exactly what level of services will be preauthorized to meet patient needs.

CDA has long advocated that oral health is an essential part of general health and should be supported by investments to improve health care in Canada. The CDCP represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make significant improvements to oral health for millions of Canadians. We must get it right from the start.

See full text of Dr. Burry’s statement to committee here.

View the April 18, 2024, recording of the FINA Committee meeting [see play point 10:09:45 for CDA’s appearance, Question 1) at 10:53:20, and Question 2) at 11:00:15].

Media Contact:
Jeff D’Andrea
Media Relations Specialist
Spécialiste des relations avec les médias
Canadian Dental Association

About the Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for dentistry dedicated to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health, and to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession. CDA, a non-regulatory authority, is a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization whose corporate members are Canada's provincial and territorial dental associations (PTDAs). CDA represents over 21,000 practicing dentists from coast to coast to coast.