Dental Care Program |  Creating a new program is “complex”, admits Chrystia Freeland

Dental Care Program | Creating a new program is “complex”, admits Chrystia Freeland

(OTTAWA) Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says her government is working very hard to provide children with dental care by the end of this year, but she admits it is “complicated” to create new programs.

Posted at 5:55 p.m

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Laura Osman The Canadian Press

Liberals promised the New Democratic Party (NDP) a new dental care program for low- and middle-income families last March as part of a “support and confidence deal” aimed at allowing the minority Liberal government to stay in power if possible . until 2025.

Under the deal, the government must provide some form of coverage for children under 12 with family incomes below $90,000 by the end of the year, or the NDP has pledged to pull out if it does not.

Several groups have expressed concern about this very tight deadline at the end of the year. However, sources familiar with the scheme say the government is working on a temporary solution that would reimburse eligible families directly while a permanent scheme is in place.

“As we’ve seen, for example, with the launch of childcare facilities across the country, delivering new services to Canadians is complicated,” Ms Freeland said when asked about the tentative plan at a news conference in Toronto. I think Canadians understand that.”

Ms Freeland has neither confirmed nor denied the Government’s plans for an interim measure, but she said Liberals are committed to this dental treatment scheme and it was a commitment she was “happily making”.

The government could enter into dental treatment contracts similar to those it has with provinces for the national child care program. Ottawa then offered provincial governments money to administer their own program according to a prescribed set of criteria. But this path seems increasingly unlikely.

Federal officials also asked dental care professionals about other approaches. For example, the government could outsource the administration of the national program to a private insurance company or entrust this work to federal officials.

“Kids shouldn’t have rotten teeth just because their parents don’t have enough money to go to the dentist — I think it’s as simple as that,” Ms Freeland said.

However, Ms. Freeland recalls that her government already made a clear commitment when it allocated $5.3 billion over five years to the program in the most recent budget.

Last week, New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh said he was confident the dental program would be in place by the end of the year, as stipulated in the deal he signed with the Liberals.

Ms Freeland said on Tuesday that her government is working “very, very hard” to deliver on her promise.