The federal government has introduced legislation to enact its recently announced cost-of-living plan by providing assistance to some Canadians with dental care for children and one-time enhancements to housing benefits and the GST tax credit.
The government said the three measures combined amount to $4.5 billion in financial support to low- and middle-income Canadians – and $3.2 billion of which is new money in addition to the measures announced in the budget.
The Canadian Dental Benefit Phase One – for children between the ages of two and 12 – is expected to provide dental care to 500,000 children at a cost of nearly $1 billion.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos described this first step on dental benefits as a “temporary” measure. He said the program will be expanded in the coming years and the government hopes it will work in line with the provinces’ plans.
“This temporary Canadian dental advantage is just the beginning,” he said. “While this temporary benefit is implemented, our government will take the necessary steps to build a comprehensive, long-term dental care program.”
Earlier this year, the Liberals and the New Democrats struck a deal requiring the NDP to vote with the Liberal minority government in the House of Commons on a vote of confidence until June 2025. In return, the government agreed to meet a number of policy criteria along the way.
That deal committed the government to a goal of expanding the dental program to those under 18 by next year, and all eligible Canadians by the end of 2025.
Dental care plan details
Starting later this year — according to information about the program released Tuesday — children under 12 with household incomes of less than $70,000 a year will be able to qualify for $650 a year of dental coverage for the next two years.
Children in families with incomes between $70,000 and $79,000 will be able to qualify for up to $390 per child per year for the next two years. Families with incomes between $80,000 and $89,000 could receive $260 per child per year for the next two years.
The Liberal government says this first phase of Canadian dental benefits will be rolled out once the enabling legislation passes through Parliament.
Once this is done, parents will be able to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) directly for the benefit, either through the CRA’s My Account or through a CRA Call Center.
To receive the benefit, parents and guardians must certify that their child does not receive private dental care and that they will use this benefit to pay for dental services.
Applicants will have to demonstrate that they have a child in the eligible age group and that the family income fits into the correct range. Parents must also provide the CRA with employer information.
People using the program must also provide the CRA with the name of the dentist and the date of the appointment. They must keep their invoices for the work done in case the CRA asks them to verify it happened.
Families who provide false information, cannot provide receipts or do not use the funds for dental care, can face a maximum fine of $5,000.
They have proposed legislation that prints more money, borrows more money, and throws gasoline on the inflationary fire created by the prime minister.Conservative Party leader Pierre Boliever
The benefit is to cover the cost of dentist services, but in remote communities where there may be a shortage of dentists, some of the services provided by dental hygienists may also be covered.
The federal government says it came up with the maximum annual claim amounts by calculating the cost of various dental services for children.
Once a person receives the benefit, they must use it to pay for dental services – but if the cost of the services in that year is less than the total amount of benefit, the recipient is not required to return the remainder.
Housing subsidy, GST credit increase
The Liberal government has also introduced legislation to provide a one-time payment to the 1.8 million renters in Canada struggling with the cost of living.
The $500 amount will be available to individuals with income less than $20,000 and families with income less than $35,000, provided they pay at least 30 percent of their adjusted net income on rent.
Canadians will be able to apply for both the dental and housing benefit once Bill C-31 passes through Parliament.
The Liberals also introduced Bill C-30, which will provide financial assistance to the nearly 11 million Canadians who currently receive GST tax credit.
The C-30 credit doubles for six months only. This means single Canadians can get an extra $234, couples with kids can get an extra $467 and seniors can get an extra $225 this year.
Since the government announced the sweeping blows to these measures earlier this month, critics have claimed that pumping more money into the economy now threatens to contribute to inflation.
“After two years of warnings from the Conservatives, the Trudeau government still has no plan to fix inflation,” Conservative Party leader Pierre Boliever said in a statement on Tuesday.
They have proposed legislation that prints more money, borrows more money, and throws gasoline on the inflationary fire created by the prime minister.
Assistant Finance Minister Randy Poissonault dismissed the charge Tuesday, saying the measures in the affordability plan are aimed at Canadians who don’t have the money they need to make ends meet.
“We’re talking about $3.2 billion in new spending versus an entire economy of $2.6-2.7 trillion,” he said. “This is like throwing a stone into the lake – the lake is not flooded.”