Ontario NDP to unveil details of dental plan election promise

On day two of the provincial election campaign, the Ontario NDP will reveal the numbers behind its promise of dental coverage. 

New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath will unveil details about what the party calls the Ontario Dental Plan during a campaign event Thursday morning in Scarborough, a party official told CBC News. 

A new campaign document on the plan says an NDP government would provide dental coverage for all uninsured Ontarians, starting in 2022.    

“Ontarians with a household income of less than $90,000 will be fully covered, with no co-pays. Your OHIP card will be all you need when you go to the dentist,” says the document. The New Democrats provided a copy to CBC News in advance of Thursday’s release.   

People with a household income of $90,000 to $200,000 would get dental coverage on a sliding scale, with the highest-income households subject to a co-pay of 50 per cent of costs.

Horwath’s promise of dental coverage was mentioned in the NDP election platform she released on April 25, but the details of the plan were not spelled out. 

The Ontario NDP election platform, released on April 25, promised a provincial dental program but did not specify the details of coverage. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

The NDP plan would cover a range of dental services, including checkups, cleanings, X-rays, fillings and root canals, as well as dentures and braces for non-cosmetic purposes. 

The New Democrats are pitching the dental plan as a way of helping Ontarians cope with the rising cost of living. More than one third of workers in the province do not have employer-paid dental benefits.  

A family of four would save $1,240 in a year under the NDP plan if all of them get the recommended examinations and cleanings and each child is treated for one cavity, according to the campaign document.

A senior-age couple would save up to $360 per year under the plan, plus $2,400 if they require dentures.

The New Democrats say the program would cost the province $680 million in 2022-23. With a promise from the federal government to fund a national dental care program, the NDP sees the provincial contribution to the plan eventually shrinking to $380 million.  

Neither the Progressive Conservatives nor Liberals have promised full-fledged dental coverage like the NDP plan, but both have floated the idea of creating “portable” benefits programs that workers could keep regardless of their employment status, with dental coverage potentially included. 

Ontarians made more than 200,000 yearly visits to doctors offices and more than 60,000 trips to hospital emergency rooms for dental problems, costing the province’s health system about $38 million per year, according to provincial government figures cited by the NDP. 

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