Apr 08, 2022

By Jane Brown

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It will be 2023 when older Canadians begin to benefit from the dental plan announced in Thursday’s federal budget.

For this year, children 12 and under in families with annual incomes under $90,000 will receive free dental care.

The plan was negotiated as part of the Trudeau Liberals’ recent pact with the Jagmeet Singh New Democrats to keep the Liberals in office until 2025.

“So in this budget, we were looking to find ways to help Canadians,” Singh explained in his post-budget news conference, “They told us they wanted us to work for them and get to Ottawa to deliver the help they needed. It’s been a tough time for Canadians. And so we did exactly that. We’ve used our power and in this budget, we’ve delivered on dental care starting with children under 12.”

But there is little else offered in new spending to re-invigorate Canada’s struggling health system.

Health transfers to the provinces will increase this year but not nearly to the degree provincial governments have requested.

The budget, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday, also does not appear to respond to the repeated pleas from health workers for a plan to address serious staffing shortages as burned out employees reduce their hours and leave the workforce in droves.

Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Katherine Smart says more tangible investments for the health workforce and the health system are needed, since she says, “we are still in this pandemic.”

This budget is also a concern for CARP members.

“A not unexpected disappointment, very little in it for seniors,” lamented Bill VanGorder, chief police officer with the Zoomers’ Advocacy Group, “We’re really disappointed that there’s no protection for inflation that’s being felt strongly by older Canadians, no new plans to protect pensions, nothing really new for healthcare. The dental plan appears it might help seniors in the future, but in the first year, it’s only going to be aimed at kids under 12 years of age.”

But VanGorder says CARP members do welcome a new multi-generational home renovation tax credit of up to $7500 to create space for a senior family member or someone who’s disabled.

The budget goes for debate Friday in the House of Commons, but will pass with support by the New Democrats.

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