Fresh Takes

Universal dental care likely to be wrought with the same problems as health care

If universal dental coverage for low-income children under 12 isn’t implemented by the end of the year, the NDP-Liberal Supply and Confidence Agreement is dead in the water according to the leader of the NDP. The dental care plan was to reach full implementation by 2025, starting with this demographic in 2022 and then expanding to under 18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with a disability in 2023.

Although we are already well into August, the Liberals have not yet decided how the dental program will be delivered. Sources say the federal government is unlikely to look to the provinces for help. This is an obvious problem given that dental care, like health care more generally, is under provincial jurisdiction. The logic behind this is that provinces are in the best position to address the needs of their populations, and to adjust their programs as those needs change over time.

At the end of the day, the operation and maintenance of a national government-run dental care monopoly will lead to the same problems we see elsewhere in our health care systems: long wait lists, shortages, and a surplus of bureaucracy. Does anyone really think this is the best way to improve accessibility?

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