Building a sustainable and effective federally funded program
A federally funded program should promote the delivery of dental care primarily through the existing network of dental offices, supplemented by public clinics, as needed.
The advantages of providing care by dentist-led teams, with collaboration from other providers, should be clearly recognized and prioritized. In partnership with other levels of government, the federal government should work toward innovative approaches to supplement private delivery of care in specific circumstances where alternatives are necessary.
Public dental care programs should remain a payer of last resort, after any privately funded coverage.
Resolving the potential challenge of employers offloading the responsibility of dental coverage to the public sector needs to be a top priority for the federal government. The federal government should also, in collaboration with other levels of government and industry stakeholders, explore ways to put in place a system that preserves and promotes further employer-provided dental coverage.
A federally funded program must be designed to complement and improve the care that Canadians have through existing federal, provincial and territorial programs.
Federal investment should not lead to existing oral health funding being redirected to other purposes or for programs already in place to be scaled back or cancelled. A set of common national standards for publicly funded dental coverage should be established, with input from relevant stakeholders, to ensure that Canadians receive the same standard of high-quality dental care they need for optimal oral health from coast to coast to coast.
Program design should ensure that administrative procedures do not impact or delay the provision of care to patients.
A federally funded program should not create additional administrative burdens for dental offices. Patient eligibility for a federally funded program should be quickly and easily assessed during a dental appointment. One way to streamline program administration would be to make use of existing tools, such as electronic claims systems (i.e. ITRANS), suggested fee guides, etc., used by both the dental care and the benefits sectors.
The federal government should address human resource challenges and staffing shortages in the oral health sector.
As a federally funded program rolls out, addressing oral health human resources will help ensure that patients do not face increased wait times to see dental care providers. Efforts are also required to ensure that the oral health care workforce across Canada has the knowledge and expertise needed to provide all patients with the care they need–particularly those from high-needs demographics including children, seniors, persons with disabilities, etc.
Any federal dental care formula should ensure the cost of treatment provided to patients is fully covered.
A federally funded program should use the most up-to-date version of provincial and territorial suggested fee guides as the basis to determine funding of services and treatments. Appropriate funding for dental care will ensure that dental professionals can provide high-quality oral health care to all patients and that the federally funded program is sustainable.