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Dental Care Bill

September 29, 2022

In the past few days, unions and advocacy groups for seniors and the poor held a press conference to present their demands to the provincial political parties currently on the campaign trail. The press conference on dental care was happening at the same time your government was introducing Bill C-31, which will give children under the age of 12 $650 for dental care. Stéphane Defoy, from the Clinique communautaire de Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montreal, considers the idea of sending a cheque to certain families completely inadequate.

He said that he would have liked to see the money being given to the provinces, since health care is a provincial jurisdiction. The provinces could then have created their own dental care plans. Mr. Defoy said:

Ultimately, health care is a provincial jurisdiction. . . . What we want is a firm commitment from each political party.

He went on to say that the federal government should transfer the money to the provinces so that they can create a proper program.

Did the federal government consult the provinces before introducing this bill?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

The program included in Bill C-31, which is still in the other place, is, as everyone knows, a first step to allocating money in the short term to families who are suffering in the current economic climate. It is not a dental plan. It is very clear that the federal government is working directly with its provincial counterparts in health care. There is an ongoing conversation about the amount of money they give to the provinces. That conversation will likely continue for the rest of our lives.

That being said, during the next steps, this chamber can rest assured that the federal government will work closely with its provincial counterparts to ensure that the program respects the needs of Canadians as well as constitutional jurisdictions.

My colleague is an extremely intelligent person, and I don’t think he understood my question, based on the answer he gave.

I will rephrase my primary question: Did the federal government consult with the provinces before introducing Bill C-31?

I have a follow-up question. Is the government aware that in Quebec, children under the age of 10 receive free dental care for most dental treatments? Will people still receive $650 even if the care they received was free?

Senator Gold [ + ]

The clear and direct answer to both questions is that the bill will be sent to us soon, I hope, and that we will have the opportunity to study it and to put questions directly to those in charge of drafting and implementing the bill.

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