The federal government announced that it won’t be expanding the eligibility of its full dental plan until 2025, despite the pledge being one of the key promises that the Liberals made to the NDP under their confidence-and-supply pact.

The dental-care plan was designed to eventually cover the dental costs for all uninsured Canadians who earn less than an annual household income of $90,000. 

The initial pact between the Liberals and the NDP called for the program to be fully implemented by the end of the year, to ensure that there wouldn’t be a federal election before 2025.

However, the Trudeau government announced last week that expanding the program to adults aged 18 to 65 wouldn’t begin until some time next year. 

“I got a clear answer that it would begin before the end of 2024,” said NDP health critic Don Davies, referring to an email he received from Health Minister Marc Holland only a week before the latest change in deadline.

According to Oak Bay News, Davies said the two parties’ agreement was “crystal clear” regarding when the program was scheduled to be implemented.

“So we expect enrollment to begin for everybody this year,” said Davies.

Over 400,000 Canadians have registered for the enrolment process to date and the dental plan is scheduled to begin accepting claims in May. 

The current age requirement for the program is for people over the age of 72, with eligibility expected to be lowered to 65 and up in May. 

By June, people with disabilities and children under the age of 18 will be permitted to apply for the program. 

“Everyone else who’s eligible can apply online starting in 2025,” said Seniors Minister Seamus O’Regan last Wednesday during a press conference in Ottawa.

Holland said the delay in enrollment was due to complications with the program.

“Would I like to get there tomorrow? Yes, but physics and the laws of gravity and reality constrain us, and so our ambition has to be constrained with getting it right,” said Holland.

Holland went on to say the enrolment process may be a significant barrier for those who haven’t previously received oral healthcare. 

“We have to make sure, as much as we possibly can, that we get it right and that they have a positive experience,” said Holland.

According to Davies, private insurance company Sun Life, which has been contracted to distribute the plan, can process as many as 500,000 applicants a month.

“If there’s any deviation from the confidence-and-supply agreement, the NDP will take the government to task over it,” said Davies.