Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, I want to speak about dental care and Pharmacare. Colleagues, in 1961, the Diefenbaker government established the Royal Commission on Health Services, chaired by Mr. Justice Emmett Hall. The Hall commission reported in 1964, and in 1968, the Pearson government passed the first Medical Care Act. This week, some 62 years later, Canada has moved to add dental care to that original health care.
Let me quote briefly from the announcement:
Oral health is an important part of our overall health and well-being. Regular visits to an oral health professional have proven to reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. . . . Access to oral health care should not be dependent on Canadians’ ability to pay.
Once fully implemented, the CDCP —
— Remember that acronym; it’s going to be one of our iconic acronyms in time —
— will help ease financial barriers to accessing oral health care for up to nine million uninsured Canadian residents with an annual family income of less than $90,000.
To meet anticipated demand, the availability will be staggered over several years by age group.
The other part I’m waiting for is pharmacare, which I have been raising in the Senate. While the Liberal government, with the support of the NDP, had committed to pass the pharmacare bill by the end of December — in other words, by today, Senator Gold — I am disappointed they have not met their deadline. I am, however, encouraged that they are continuing negotiations for such a plan, and I understand that such negotiations are based on having an efficient and affordable system.
As we close out 2024, I compliment both parties for doing dental care and encourage them to meet their new deadline by the end of March 2024. I hope we can see it pass shortly thereafter.
I, therefore, wish the negotiators Godspeed in adding this important step to a great Canadian iconic policy that goes back to the Diefenbaker-Pearson years. May I take this opportunity, Madam Speaker, colleagues, to wish you all the best for the season, for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and may the new year be a more peaceful and harmonious one. Thank you.