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New Canada Dental Benefit for children

MP Gudie Hutchings says the plan is to extend the dental benefit for everyone in 2023. – File photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

OTTAWA — The Canada Dental Benefit was rolled out on Dec. 1, and it is intended to help lower the dental costs for eligible families who earn less than $90,000 per year. If a family has a child or children under the age of 12 and they don’t have access to a private dental insurance plan, depending on the adjusted family income, a tax-free payment of $260, $390, or $650 is available for each child. These benefits are available for two periods, so each eligible family can only get a maximum of two payments for each child, which will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural and Economic Development, said this is great news for families.

“It’s one of the measures we are doing to make life more affordable for low-income families. We’ve done so much with the top-up to the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement), with the rental benefit, with the carbon – I know some people are still on the fence about that, but I still believe that more Newfoundlanders will benefit from our carbon program – the $10-a-day daycare. It’s just another tool in our toolbox to help Canadians in these trying times and it’s targeted at low-income families with children.”

The payments that families are eligible to receive will depend on which income category they fall into.

“If your net family income is less than $70,000, you’ll get $650 per child, but remember you have to keep your receipts. If you make $70,000 to $80,000 you get $390 per child, and if you make $80,000 to $90,000 you get $260 per child,” explained Hutchings.

The payment through the CRA account will come before the dental work is completed.

“It’s up-front,” said Hutchings. “It’s a direct deposit through your MyCRA account. You have to make sure you’ve filled in your 2021 tax return. That’s how they know your income. It’s purpose is to cover for kids that don’t have access to private dental insurance, which sadly are many, and you have to be able to prove that you’ve had an appointment with your dentist. You can’t get the money and then go buy a TV. You have to be able to prove that and then keep the receipts for five or six years. CRA is going to contact people at random to validate it, and if you’re caught that you don’t have the receipts, you will be asked to pay it back.”

If the dental visit doesn’t equate to the full amount received from the benefit, Hutchings said that families will most likely be able to use it towards a future appointment.

“I think you can hold onto it. If you do over-apply, there is a mechanism where you can send it back.”

Hutchings explained that they are releasing the benefit in stages to be able to figure out any issues and fix them before expanding.

“With a new program there can be (issues), that’s why everybody said let’s do this in stages and make sure we’ve got this right,” said Hutchings. “We know if people have better dental care, it’s less stress on systems as you get older. Dentists tell me this all the time too, and this is the first step in us developing our dental plan. The goal is to expand the coverage in 2023, to expand it to all families, all ages, with no insurance and with income under $90,000 by 2025. This is the first part. If you stop small, you can work out the humps and bumps along the road. Let’s make sure this works before we expand it to everyone.”

Hutchings believes this benefit will lead to less oral-health complications for children as they get older.

“A lot of it is preventative care. If you know kids are going regularly for a checkup and a cleaning and they get good dental-oral health habits, it’s saving us money in the long run. That’s the stuff people forget about this. You get kids with good oral healthcare when they are four, five, and six years old, they won’t be going to see specialists when they get older.”

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