NDP plan to include dental coverage, costing $1.2 billion
TORONTO -- An NDP government in Ontario would spend $1.2 billion to provide dental coverage to an additional 4.5 million people, with the money coming from higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations, party leader Andrea Horwath said Monday.
If the party wins the provincial election in June, it will run a deficit to spend significantly on health care, Horwath said.
The NDP plan -- called Ontario Benefits -- would provide coverage for students, seniors and people working jobs without dental benefits, she said.
"No matter how you work, from full-time and part-time employees, to independent workers on contract or freelance you will have health benefits," Horwath said. "You will be able to get the dental care that you need."
The NDP dental plan, first announced Saturday, would extend publicly funded dental care to all seniors without retiree benefits at a cost of $670 million in its first year. The second stage of the plan would provide dental benefits to all workers, which the party estimates would cost $575 million a year. The plan would be fully implemented by 2020.
The plan would cover a number of dental procedures including basic exams, cleanings, x-rays, preventative and minor restorative work and necessary dentures.
The plan for workers would be funded with mix of employer and employee contributions similar to the employment insurance. People earning under $30,000 would have their contributions refunded while workers making over $60,000 would contribute a maximum of $4.33 a week.
Horwath said an NDP government would also raise the money to pay for the plan by increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
"Our platform will be fully costed and it will have a responsible fiscal plan attached to it," she said. "But that does include protecting lower income and middle class families from cost pressures. .. but the wealthiest among us and the most profitable corporations will be asked to pay their fair share."
The NDP leader also said that her party would run a deficit if elected but she would not provide any further details.
"Our goal is to fix the damage Kathleen Wynne has done and it will definitely put us into deficit position," she said. "The scale of that is something that will be revealed when we bring our full platform forward with what we believe is a very responsible fiscal plan."
The announcement came on the same day the province's Liberal government outlined its priorities heading into the election with a throne speech that focused on more funding for health care services. It also briefly mentioned dental care as an area the government plans to address in the upcoming provincial budget, set to be tabled March 28.
Ontario's election is expected to be held June 7.