Data shows nearly a quarter of the country would be eligible for subsidies under the proposed federal dental care program, which is higher than initially estimated.According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a promise in 2022 to provide free dental care for lower-income households as part of an agreement with the New Democrats.Asked “What is the projected number of individuals who would qualify for this plan?” the department of health said in an Inquiry of Ministry tabled in the Commons that 9,077,196 people nationwide were eligible for free dentistry. In a previous estimate, the Budget Office projected fewer than 6.5 million people would be eligible for the proposed dental care program.The figures were disclosed at the request of New Democrat MP Blake Desjarlais (Edmonton Griesbach, AB). The health department said the nine million beneficiaries with household incomes under $90,000 and no dental insurance included 4.4 million working-age Canadians, 3.7 million seniors and 872,000 children.The Budget Office did not provide a specific cost estimate for the proposed expansion of dental care. However, a previous estimate Cost Estimate of a Federal Dental Care Program for Uninsured Canadians projected expenses to be $4.6 billion in the first year and an average of $1.5 billion annually in the following years.“We estimate that close to 6.5 million Canadians will benefit from the proposed program during the first year,” wrote analysts.According to the Budget Office, around 32% of Canadians, which is about 12 million people, do not have dental insurance. Nearly half earn more than the $90,000 threshold required for dental care coverage.“This is what working constructively is all about,” Trudeau told reporters after signing a 2022 Supply and Confidence Agreement with New Democrats. The pact proposed to keep Liberals in power in the minority Parliament until June 30, 2025, in exchange for free dental care and other federal programs.“Is this what Canadians voted for?” a reporter asked at the time. “Parties need to work together,” replied Trudeau. “That’s what a minority government means.”Currently, there's a federal program that gives families $650 per year per child under 12 in households with incomes less than $70,000 and this money is not taxed. The cabinet wants to make this program available to people of all ages, not just children.In testimony on May 17, the health department expressed concern to the Senate Social Affairs committee that private employers who provided dental plans might stop offering their employees coverage.“It is something we are concerned about,” testified Lindy Van Amburg, director general of a health department dental task force.“Certainly, we are looking at ways to make sure those who currently provide coverage will continue to do so. I would say, however, we will need to be very careful about what the levers are.”In C-47 the Budget Implementation Act, the cabinet mandated all employers who provide dental coverage must tell the Canada Revenue Agency about it by December 31, or they could be fined $100. Van Amburg described it as a way to collect information.