The NDP is promising free dental care for households making under $70,000 starting next year if it wins a mandate in the federal election.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made the announcement in Sudbury, Ont., Wednesday morning on Day 8 of the election campaign.
The party says it would immediately implement a public dental care plan to cover uninsured Canadians.
Dental care would be free for households making under $70,000, with a sliding co-payment for those earning between $70,000 and $90,000.
The party says the covered services would include examinations, cleanings and fluoride rinses, x-rays, teeth fillings, crowns, root canals, treatments for gum disease, dentures and braces for non-cosmetic purposes.
The party estimates its initial plan would cover 4.3 million Canadians and would save a family of four (if the household makes $70,000 or less) roughly $1,240.
“It is bold, it is exciting, I’m kind of getting goosebumps when I think about it because we can actually cover so many Canadians that don’t have coverage,” Singh told reporters.
“It’ll make people healthier.”
The Parliamentary Budget Office costed the plan and said it would cost nearly $1.9 billion for 2020-2021, “because we assume that untreated oral diseases occurring prior to 2020 are treated in 2020.”
That PBO estimate drops to $824 million in 2021-2022 and remains relatively stable at $856 million by 2028-2029.
Singh said the coverage would come under a federal insurance program, which would help avoid negotiations with the provinces. The party said dentists and community health centres would be reimbursed for the services they provide.
Singh called the announcement “a down payment” on party founder Tommy Douglas’s goal of having dental care included in Canada’s health care system.
The party laid out the bare bones of a plan back in June in an early platform release.
“A New Democrat government will work together with provincial partners, health professionals and dentists to develop a roadmap to including dental care in the Canada Health Act,” says the document.