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N.S. dental clinics hesitant to enroll in new federal dental plan

By Caitlin Snow Apr 17, 2024 | 1:16 PM

The new Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is set to roll out in a couple of weeks but less than one per cent of dentists in Nova Scotia have signed on.

The $13 billion CDCP announced in December, is targeted to low- and middle-income Canadians; to provide dental insurance to those that don’t have private coverage, starting with seniors.

However, according to Dr. Juli Waterbury, President of the Nova Scotia Dental Association (NSDA), although they are excited in the ‘historic’ investment, they have their concerns.

Waterbury, says, first, there is a significant shortage of staff in the province with some offices who may have difficulty handling any more patients that the plan may bring.

Then, there is the administrative burden.

Clinics would also have to enroll in the program, something, she says, they don’t have to do now and the contract itself is confusing with a lot of details that are uncertain.

“We already have several provincial run government plans that support people in getting their dental care and we don’t know yet how this federal plan is going to interact with these provincial plans that we have.”

Another setback is that patients think the plan is free, yet it will only reimburse a percentage of cost based on CDCP fees and your family income.

Waterbury says they are still encouraging patients to sign up.

“I would say, hold on. I have told patients in my office, that right now we are not accepting this plan. However, we have promised our patients that we will continue to monitor while the government makes changes to this program and if we reach the point where we are comfortable participating, we certainly will be.”

Dr. Held at the Tacoma Dental Clinic in Dartmouth tells us, they are also ecstatic about the plan but like many other clinics in the province, have their concerns and have not enrolled.

This causes disappointment daily with their patients, with about 10 to 15 who ask about the coverage every day, once they receive notice in the mail that they qualify.

Held says, for their clinic, that is about 30 per cent of the roughly 2,000 patients they serve.

She adds though, that if they can work out the kinks, they will be signing up.

The plan starts May 1.