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Few N.B. dentists register for new federal dental plan

By Tara Clow May 2, 2024 | 1:45 PM

The new Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) is now available to over a million seniors across Canada.

Coverage for seniors 70 years and older began on May 1, while those between the ages of 65 and 69 can also apply for the program online.

Many New Brunswickers may not be able to benefit, because according to SunLife, only five dentists have enrolled in the program.

New Brunswick Dental Society Executive Director Paul Blanchard says dentists are not opposed, but there are challenges.

“Dentists are concerned about the details of the plan, as it exists right now. We surveyed in December of our members and did a survey again in March. We talked to the Department of Health, Health Canada and let them know that the majority of dentists, 78 per cent of dentists in New Brunswick had indicated at that time that they would not be participating in the plan.”

He adds some of the main concerns include the administrative burden related to the plan, which will be the responsibility of the dental office.

“There are broader issues here in the Brunswick as well. We’ve got population growth, a spike in the last five years or so. We have a population of over 850,000 people now. We still have about 365 licensed dentists in the province. We have a shortage of dental assistants, dental hygienists, and, and many clinics. In the province are are not accepting new patients currently. So we have some demographic challenges related to the dental profession,” Blanchard says.

He adds that forty per cent of our dentists in New Brunswick are over the age of 50, so the big issue is capacity.

“We’re pretty strained currently with respect to our capacity to provide services and so that in and of itself, is a challenge to rolling out a big program like this one.”