'Challenges' with way new dental program rolled out

Federal support programs

This week, the House of Commons is back in session in Ottawa.

The government has introduced two bills intended to provide relief for some Canadian families struggling with higher interest rates and inflation.

The bills are C-30 “An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (temporary enhancement to the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit)” and Bill C-31 “An Act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing”.

Bill C-30 proposes to raise the GST rebate to a low-income earner by 50% of what they normally would receive on their GST rebate.
This one-time measure, over the proposed six-month time frame, will cost the treasury $2.5 billion.

What would the increase in the GST credit look like? Here are a few hypothetical situations:

• A low-income senior couple with a combined annual income of $45,000 would receive an additional $353.30.

• A single student who makes $25,000 would receive an additional $612.

• A single parent with one child and $45,000 in net income would receive an additional $257.15. If they earn $50,000, that additional payment would go down to $132.15. If that single parent earns more than $55,000 in net income, they would receive no payment.

• Similarly, a couple with two children and $45,000 in net family income would receive a reduced extra payment of $337.65 (compared to $467 at $35,000 in net income), and would receive $87.65 with a $55,000 net family income.

The GST credit increase will be completely phased out at a net income of $58,500 or above.

Bill C-31 proposes a two-year dental benefit for children under 12 and would provide a maximum of $650 a year per child, for two years, for families earning less than $70,390 a year. Families that have an income between $70,390 and $90,000 would see the benefit reduced to somewhere between $390 and down to $260, depending on the income cutoff.

What is interesting is so far, the government is proposing this dental benefit be provided upfront, before a child sees a dentist, and parents won’t have to automatically submit receipts or return any unused money, as reported by the National Post.

It should be noted dental care programs for low-income children already exist in all provinces and territories except Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, and almost 70 per cent of Canadians have dental coverage.

This creates two challenges.

Without any type of verification process, the program could be open to abuse and fraud. Secondly, without any verification or billing information required, there is no opportunity for the government to compile data that can be used to assess and monitor how well the program is actually working.

The Canadian Dental Association has said the federal government can best ensure funding will quickly and efficiently benefit those Canadians who need it most, namely by collaborating with provinces and territories to stabilize and enhance existing provincial and territorial dental care programs.

While this advice is reasonable, the government has not followed it.

Scotiabank has also said that these new spending announcements will increases the likelihood the Bank of Canada will need to raise interest rates above 4%.

If that occurs, it will financially punish many Canadians who will not benefit from these proposed new programs.

My question this week:

Are you supportive of Bill C-30 and C-31?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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