Assess chances

Horrible Canadian medicine - dental treatment for free

Horrible Canadian medicine - dental treatment for free

A new initiative from the government that will change a lot of things for Canadians and immigrants.

Concerns about healthcare in Canada, particularly dental treatment, have been a longstanding issue for many immigrants. The prospect of waiting several months to see a doctor and enduring long lines in hospitals has been a common experience. Additionally, dental care costs have been a source of anxiety. However, a recent government initiative promises positive changes for both Canadians and immigrants.

Dental prices in Canada

Healthcare in Canada is commonly perceived as conditionally free, funded through taxes, but dental care typically requires personal budget allocation unless supplemented by employer-provided insurance. Canada, with its high living standards, salaries, and service costs, especially for high-skilled professions, witnesses a constant rise in dental prices. Current prices include approximately:

  • standard dental exam: CA$150 to $300;
  • fillings: CA$150 to $450 per piece;
  • X-rays: CA$30 to $250;
  • root canal treatment: CA$500 to $1,500.

For major interventions like dentures or crowns, costs can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Free dental care

Exciting news arrived on December 11, 2023, when the Minister of Health announced the commencement of the first phase of the federal dental plan. The Canadian government has committed to covering dental costs, making dental care in Canada free.

Initially, this program applies only to Canadians aged 87 and older. However, during 2024, eligibility will gradually extend to younger age groups, and by 2025, everyone will have access to the program. When you move to Canada, the plan may be just about to take effect.

Eligibility criteria for coverage include:

  • no existing dental insurance plan;
  • Canadian tax residency with a filed tax declaration for the previous year;
  • annual family income not exceeding CA$90,000.

Primarily aimed at low-income Canadians, the program promises full dental coverage for those with up to CA$70,000 per year in household income. Other public insurance holders will be responsible for up to 60% of procedure costs.

This initiative is expected to significantly ease the lives of those with lower incomes, especially for newcomers finding employment with modest salaries. Don't expect high wages from your first year in Canada: many people have to build a career from scratch. The plan can also be beneficial for families with young children, alleviating financial burdens associated with childcare expenses.

Also note the requirement to file a tax declaration for the previous year, making insurance coverage accessible from the second year of residence in Canada, provided income eligibility is maintained. Notably, the coverage extends beyond basic procedures, including prosthetics, polishing, and cleaning.

Other dental plans

But what about those fortunate enough to exceed the CA$90,000 family income threshold? Are they left to foot their dental bills alone? Not exactly. In Canada, urgent situations warranting serious and immediate care are covered by the government, irrespective of insurance status.

Moreover, the recently introduced federal dental plan is not the sole dental assistance program in Canada. Three other federal dental care initiatives exist for veterans, aboriginal people, refugees, and those awaiting refugee status.

For others, provincial programs step in to provide support. While variations exist across provinces and territories, some general trends are notable.

Firstly, children are not overlooked when it comes to dental care. A federal plan caters to children up to the age of 12 if their parents lack insurance, alongside provincial programs that differ in requirements for family income, age criteria, and services covered. For example, in Quebec, free dental care extends to children under 10, in Nova Scotia, up to 14, and in Ontario, the program encompasses children up to 17, covering routine dental visits, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and more. Only cosmetic procedures like whitening or braces are excluded.

Secondly, regions have long strived to aid those with limited financial means. The threshold for financial assistance varies by province, such as CA$25,000 per person in Ontario.

All provinces and territories offer distinct plans for individuals with disabilities. In British Columbia, dental services are covered up to CA$1,000 every two years, applicable to either the individual or their spouse. Even if the limit is surpassed, emergency treatment remains covered.

Thirdly, special dental programs cater to seniors, typically those over 65. Conditions differ among provinces, for instance, in Ontario, a senior's income for program eligibility must not exceed CA$22,000, while Alberta permits coverage for seniors with incomes up to CA$31,000.

Plans for foreign workers and students

Plans for foreign workers and international students add another layer. Dental service coverage can be obtained through employment, a common practice for full-time positions. In Alberta, for instance, an Alberta Blue Cross Card can significantly reduce or even eliminate dental care costs for those officially enrolled. This can greatly reduce the cost of dental care and preventive care — and sometimes avoid any costs at all.

The cardinal rule with any insurance is to agree on costs beforehand. Always request a pre-treatment form from your dentist and submit it to the insurance company to avoid unwelcome surprises. 

If you come to Canada for studies, major universities often provide insurance plans with details available on their websites. Familiarize yourself with the specifics, considering that the insurance may not become effective immediately, possibly taking 2-3 months from the start of your studies.

Furthermore, non-profit organizations in Canada may offer free or low-cost dental care, usually specific to certain cities. Check the official websites of your residing area for such services. Enrolling in the Dental Grants Program is also an option. If approved, you can receive partial coverage for your treatment.

For those willing to explore unconventional routes, Canadian universities that produce dentists frequently seek individuals for student internships. This doesn't mean being a guinea pig but involves graduates gaining real-world experience under the supervision of mentor doctors.

As you see, even for those not eligible for the new dental plan, numerous options exist in Canada. While navigating these options may be challenging, the ultimate reward is saving your hard-earned money.

If you're dreaming of moving to Canada but haven't made the leap yet, we're here to assist you. Book a consultation with one of our specialists, and we'll guide you through the steps to obtain a Canadian residence permit.

Ivanna Pavlenko, regulated Canadian immigration consultant

  • #healthcare in Canada
  • #dentistry in Canada
  • #dental treatment in Canada
  • #federal dental plan
  • #medical insurance in Canada
  • #insurance coverage in Canada
  • #pros and cons of Canadian medicine
  • #living in Canada
  • #free medicine in Canada
  • #dental prices in Canada
  • #dental prices in Canada
  • #free treatment in Canada