OTTAWA — The federal government has asked the private sector to weigh in on how companies could play a role in Canada’s national dental-care plan.
The Liberals set aside $5.3 billion over the next five years to launch a dental-care program for uninsured low- and middle-income families.
The have committed to starting with kids under the age of 12 in households with an annual income of less than $90,000 by the end of this year, with plans to extend coverage to under-18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with disabilities in 2023.
The program is a key part of the confidence and supply deal the Liberals signed with the NDP to stave off a potential election until June 2025.
NDP health critic Don Davies said in a statement that the two parties recently agreed on an implementation plan for national dental care that includes learning from “stakeholders with expertise in claims processing.”
The government issued a formal request for information, seeking input from industry players between now and Aug. 22.
“Canada is exploring different models to deliver on this commitment — including a federal direct delivery option, whereby Health Canada would deliver the program itself with the support of one or more third-party benefits providers,” the government said in the document.
The government could also give cash to the provinces along with a list of coverage they have to provide.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos reiterated that the government hasn’t yet settled on which form the program will take. The responses from various companies, along with consultations with provinces and territories, will inform federal decisions about how to proceed, he said.
The NDP and Liberals agreed the program would be expanded to include all uninsured family members under the $90,000 income threshold before the term of the deal runs out.
In the request-for-information document, the government estimates seven to nine million Canadians would be eligible for the program once it’s fully phased in. If the Liberals contract the program out to a private firm, there would be a six-month startup phase between when the contract was awarded and when it would begin.
That would make it impossible for the Liberals to meet the end-of-year deadline to fulfil their promise to the NDP in the confidence and supply agreement between the two parties.
In the document, the government asks companies to explain whether they have the capacity to handle claims from the millions of Canadians who will qualify for coverage.
The Liberals also want to know if an “off-the-shelf” insurance plan already exists that the government could adapt to suit its needs, and how quickly that could come together.
The document asks companies to answer key questions, like what basket of services should be covered and how the program would be best delivered.
The government has also solicited advice about how to handle the complicated industry landscape, which includes provincial and territorial programs and private insurers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press
Alberta announces combined $187 million in addictions and homelessness funding
By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton
The Alberta government has announced more than $124 million over two years for addiction and mental health services in Edmonton and Calgary, with another $63 million aimed at reducing homelessness in the province over the same period.
The funding for Edmonton and Calgary will go toward increasing treatment spaces while expanding addiction services, with $70 million earmarked for capital spending and $54 million to assist operations.
A 75-bed, co-ed long-term treatment facility is planned to be operational in Edmonton by the end of 2023, while a similar facility is to be built in Calgary by early 2024.
The $63 million is to support steps outlined in the government’s action plan on homelessness.
Premier Jason Kenney stressed his government’s recovery-based approach to the addictions issue when he announced the funding Saturday, calling British Columbia’s recent move to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs in January “reckless.”
“In the area of addressing addictions, there are many that believe recovery is a false hope. It’s not possible, and instead what we should do is actually to facilitate dangerous addictions rather than to offer an off-ramp to freedom from addiction,” Kenney said during the announcement at Edmonton’s Herb Jamieson Centre.
“The whole point is to give people a fighting chance to escape from the grips of addiction so they have the opportunity to build a new, safe fulfilling life.
“Recovery works. It’s not a new concept or an untested Utopian theory,” he said.
Under the Alberta plan, the number of winter shelter spaces will be expanded in communities like Edmonton, Wetaskiwin and Lethbridge, and in rural communities where there is an urgent and unmet need.
All provincially funded shelters will also provide round-the-clock access seven days a week, while funding will be equalized between community-based organizations in Edmonton and Calgary.
The funding will include $5 million to create up to 450 additional shelter spots in Edmonton, bringing the number of emergency spaces in the city to over 1,000.
The plan also includes $2.5 million in 2022-2023 to test the so-called service hub model in two pilot programs in Calgary and Edmonton. These six-month long programs will connect people directly with support and services such as addictions recovery, housing and emergency financial support, beginning this fall.
Meanwhile, the addictions funding will be used to increase the ability of direct outreach teams through Edmonton police and Alberta Health Services to provide support and overdose prevention services. The same expansion of services will also be carried out in Calgary.
Edmonton police chief Dale McFee lauded the fact that housing options include support for mental health and addictions as he personally thanked Kenney for the new funding.
“This is the biggest single investment that I’ve ever seen over the course of my career in actually addressing the system versus putting more money into silos that are actually generating a lot of the problem,” McFee said at the announcement.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the funding would tackle the root causes of homelessness, and also praised the fact the province was delivering on a request to provide enhanced plans when prisoners are discharged from corrections facilities.
In July, the city requested a hub where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime and address a spike in violence downtown, in nearby Chinatown and and on the transit system.
“These investments show our collaborative approach is working, and together we are making life better for struggling Edmontonians,” Sohi said at the announcement.
But NDP Critic for Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson said in a news release that Kenney’s government has cut funding for housing, noting buildings that could have opened months ago are sitting empty because the government hasn’t provided operational funding.
“The money announced today does not even begin to address the deeper need for permanent supportive housing, social housing and affordable housing in this province,” she said.
According to the province, over 6,400 Albertans were experiencing homelessness— including nearly 4,000 using emergency shelters or on the streets — as of Jan. 31.
Alberta saw more than 1,600 opioid-related deaths in 2021.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2022.
Red Deer is Canada’s most active community. Celebrate with free activities at the Collicutt Centre!
News release from the Red Deer Primary Care Network
Residents are invited to celebrate Red Deer winning the Community Better ParticipACTION Challenge and the title of the “Most Active Community” in Canada.
October 15, 2022, Collicutt Centre
In June, Red Deer Residents participated in the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge.
This challenge saw our citizens and community organizations tracking over 19 million minutes of physical activity. We had over 700 community members and 35 community organizations showing a total of 153,010 people participating in organized community events and tracking their activity on the ParticipACTION app or website.
This support by our community helped Red Deer WIN the title of Canada’s Most Active Community. Along with the title we received the $100,000 grand prize to be put back into our community to stay active and healthy.
As recognition and to thank everyone for their efforts and celebrate this victory, we welcome all Red Deer citizens to join us at that the Collicutt Centre on October 15th, 2022, from 12:00- 3:00pm.
There will be a warm welcome address by Mayor Johnston between 12:00-12:15pm followed by FREE Swimming, Skating and activities in the Field House for everyone to participate in. There will also be the opportunity to connect with community organizations showcasing their services on mainstreet in the Collicutt.
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