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Canadian Dental Care Plan

December 11, 2023

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Leader, the Liberal government announced a Canada-wide dental care program this morning. The program was apparently announced before proper discussions were held with the provinces or specific agreements were reached with the governments. This is obviously raising the ire of the provinces, especially Quebec, which already has a program that covers dental care.

Quebec minister Jean-François Roberge said the following:

Here is yet another example of the federal government’s obvious inability to keep from encroaching on areas of Quebec jurisdiction . . .

That was minister Jean-François Roberge’s complaint.

Leader, do I understand correctly that your government is going ahead with the implementation of the new dental insurance program before signing an agreement with Quebec or the other provinces?

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

As you are very well aware, esteemed colleague, this program was announced a long time ago, and the first step has already been completed.

As for today’s announcement, it is quite clear that this program will start by providing assistance to the most vulnerable, in other words, to seniors and to young people under the age of 18, in cases where they have no insurance through their employer or their province.

That means it’s a supplement provided by the federal government to ensure that nine million Canadians currently without access to dental care can get the care and services they need.

I am going to repeat my question, because when I heard the answer, I do not think you understood it.

Have you made an announcement and implemented a program that encroaches on a provincial jurisdiction without having reached an agreement with Quebec or the provinces?

Is there going to be another dust-up over who gets to put their stamp — a fleur-de-lis or a maple leaf — on the cheque?

Senator Gold [ - ]

No, I fully understood the question and here is my answer: The government is moving forward with a well‑publicized program to help those Canadians who do not have access to dental care through their employer, if they are working, or their province, as in Quebec.

This is not a question of encroaching on a provincial jurisdiction. This is an example of government using these means to help Canadians.

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