With the new Canadian Dental Care Plan rolling out, it’s critical that it doesn’t displace existing employer-sponsored dental coverage, says Stephen Frank, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

He believes a tax credit would be an optimal solution that would go a long way towards encouraging employers not to step back from their commitment to providing dental coverage to employees. “We don’t want to create incentives for employers or provinces to start dropping dental coverage. So, we’ll continue to work with government, both to understand the program but also to encourage them to put some protections in place to avoid employers dropping coverage.”

Read: Dental-care program’s employer reporting requirement may cause barriers to care: experts

The federal government’s plan provides dental coverage to Canadians who don’t have access to private dental insurance and whose annual net family income is less than $90,000. Canadians enrolled in the CDCP will be able to start seeing an oral health provider as early as May for a range of preventative, diagnostic, restorative, endodontic and other services that are covered under the plan. A 40 per cent copayment will apply for participants with family net incomes of between $70,000 and $79,999 and a 60 per cent copayment will apply for those earning between $80,000 and $89,999.

Since the government has yet to release full details on how the plan will work, as well as some of the administration behind it, Frank says it’s important that employers hold off on making any major decisions on their dental coverage until the full picture comes to light. “What you don’t want to do is disadvantage employees and accidentally leave them with poor coverage at the end of this. It’s important for the government [to focus on] how to put protections in place so that doesn’t happen.”

Read: Federal government seeks to launch national dental care in December

Beginning with the 2023 tax year, employers and pension plan administrators issuing T4 statements must report on a T4 or T4A slip whether a payee or any of their family members were eligible to access dental insurance — or dental coverage of any kind, including health-care spending accounts — with their current or former employment.

The government began rolling out the plan in phases, beginning with eligible seniors aged 65 and older. In June, the plan opens to adults with a disability tax credit certificate and children aged 18 and younger, followed by all other eligible Canadians in 2025.

Read: Enhanced national dental plan to require reporting of employer-provided coverage: budget