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What is the Canada Dental Benefit and who can Apply?

Written by Jessica Steer
Sometimes it can feel like there are always bills to pay and it just never ends. Extra expenses like dental, prescription drugs or unexpected health issues can pop out of anywhere and can add up quickly if you don’t have any insurance coverage. While Canada does have universal health care, which would otherwise be extremely expensive, it is only recently that the Federal Government has developed the interim Canada Dental Benefit. Before this, unless you had private dental insurance, you had to pay for it all out of your pocket. If you are just paying for yourself this could be manageable but if there is more than one person in the household this adds up quite quickly. What exactly is the Canada Dental Benefit and how can it help Canadians with rising costs?
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    How the Canada Dental Benefit Works

    As part of the government's launch of the Canada Affordability Plan, they have created the new Canada Dental Benefit. As of October 1, 2022, only the first benefit period of this dental benefit had been launched. Unlike other government benefits, this one isn’t automatically given to you when you file your taxes. You have to actually apply.

    Right now, the application process for the dental benefit is online through your MyCRA account, or you can phone and apply directly. There are a few different payment amounts you can receive for this benefit, but keep in mind that this is currently an interim benefit, and the last day to apply is June 30, 2023. The second benefit period runs from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, with applications opening on July 1, 2023.

    Eligibility Requirements and Benefits

    In order to qualify for this benefit, you must have an adjusted net income of $90,000 or less on your 2021 tax return, your child must have been born on or after December 2, 2010, you are the only parent or caregiver receiving the Canada Child Benefit, or you have shared custody and receive half of the CCB payments, and you have filed your 2021 taxes. Currently, this benefit is also only available to cover costs for children ages 11 or younger. They also had to have received dental care between Oct 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, and not be covered under any private dental care coverage.

    Once you have applied and are approved, you can get up to a maximum of two payments per child. The payment amounts are $260, $390, or $650. These payments are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency and are considered to be tax-free.

    For the second phase of the program, your 2022 tax return is used. To qualify for the benefit amounts, your child must have had dental care between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.

    Breakdown of Benefits

    How much you will receive in dental benefits ultimately depends on your adjusted family net income.

    • If your family’s adjusted net income is $70,000 or less, then you can get $650 for each eligible child.
    • If the adjusted net income is between $70,000 and $79,999, then you can get $390 for each eligible child
    • If the adjusted net income is between $80,000 and $89,999, then you can get $260 for each eligible child.

    We did mention you are able to get up to two payments per child. That is one for each benefit period of the program. It is also possible that each payment will be different as well because your financial situation can change from year to year.

    Is the Dental Benefit only for Children?

    Currently, the dental benefit is only available to cover dental expenses for children 11 and under. That isn’t expected to be permanent, though, just the first phase of the program. At some point in 2023, those who are under 18, seniors and those with disabilities are likely to be also included. By 2025, the program is supposed to cover all middle to low-income families who don’t have access to a private dental insurance plan.

    Different Dental Benefits per Province

    As of right now, the Canadian Dental Benefit offers tax-free payments towards basic dental care if you fall within the income requirements. This program is available to all of Canada, but are their individual provincial programs to help cover the cost of dental care? Yes, there are. That being said, just like the government dental plan, they aren’t available to everyone and you must apply to be considered for approval. Keep in mind that these programs can’t overlap so if you qualify for one then you are unable to get the other. Let’s take a look at what your options are depending on where you live.


    In BC, basic dental coverage is only available if you are on income or disability assistance. It covers up to $1000 every 2 years for you and a spouse. For children, it covers up to $2000 every 2 years and up to $1000 per year for dental care required in a hospital under general anesthetic.


    In Alberta, there is the Alberta Health Services Dental Clinic. This clinic offers dental care at a reduced fee for those who demonstrate a financial need. In order to use this service, you have to apply with Alberta Health Services.


    In Saskatchewan, those who are on income or disability assistance can also qualify for reduced or free dental benefits as part of their Supplementary Health Benefits Program.


    In Manitoba there are no programs to help with the cost of dental.


    Ontario offers a Seniors Dental Care Program. This program covers basic dental services for low income seniors over the age of 65. They also have a Healthy Smiles Program. This is for children who are low income or in a qualifying Ontario program.


    In Quebec, children under the age of 10 and those on financial assistance(as long as they have a claim slip) can receive certain dental services at no cost.

    Nova Scotia

    In Nova Scotia there is the Children’s Oral Health Program. This allows children 14 and younger to have their dental expenses covered, as long as they have a valid MS Health Card. Certain dental surgeries for all ages are also covered upon approval.


    PEI has 4 different provincial dental programs but the one that covers basic dental costs is the Provincial Dental Care Program. This program covers dental care services for low income families. You must fill out an application to receive an approval.

    New Brunswick

    In New Brunswick, there is a Health Services Dental Program. This program covers those who are 19 or older, aren’t covered under private insurance, and are clients of health services.


    The Yukon has a dental program for those who don’t have dental insurance benefits. Your approval is based on your annual net income compared to how many are in the household. An income of $60,000 or less for an individual, $90,000 or less for an individual with 2 children, and so on.


    Nunavut has a dental health program for children in grade 7 and younger. These services are provided by dentists, dental hygienists, and other oral health professionals. You do have to register your child for them to receive these services.

    Northwest Territories

    Certain communities in the Northwest Territories offer dental services to children. It is available through the schools. There is also an extended benefits program for seniors that you can get with an approved application. It covers a variety of services including dental care.

    Canadian Dental Care Plan

    While the current Canada Dental Benefit offers a tax-free benefit to those with children who've received dental care, the program is going to expand. As of May 2024, families with no dental insurance and an AFNI of $90,000 or less will have access to financial help for oral health care.

    If you're 87 or older, you should receive information on applying in December 2023. Those between the ages of 77 and 86 should receive information in February of 2024. Those who are 70 years of age or older should receive information on how to apply in March of 2024. Those who are between the ages of 65-69 will be able to apply in May of 2024. Children under 18 and those who have a Disability Tax Credit Certificate will be eligible to apply in June 2024.

    Dental Care in Canada

    Overall, dental care in Canada can be quite expensive. There are plenty of provincial programs for those who are low income, but what about those who are considered to be middle class? That’s where the national dental care program comes in. This dental care benefit helps those who make too much money to be considered low income, but still don’t make quite enough to cover everything out of pocket. This isn’t an issue for those who receive some sort of private dental care insurance, but for those who don’t, it can be quite costly. While this program is only currently available to cover costs for those under 11, it won’t be long before all eligible individuals will be able to get some assistance covering basic dental care costs.

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