Sun Life hired for work on national dental care benefit program

Pre-contractual work to include recruitment, IT, business planning

Sun Life hired for work on national dental care benefit program

The federal government has picked Sun Life to help with the rollout of the Canadian Dental Care Plan.

Ottawa has awarded up to $15 million to Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada under an Early Work Agreement. 

The funding will allow the insurance company to do pre-contractual work to ensure the timely launch and successful operation of the program while details of the main contract are finalized. This includes work such as recruitment, information technology-related activities and business planning. 

“No one should have to choose between taking care of their teeth and paying their bills at the end of the month,” Mark Holland, minister of health “Canadians deserve access to quality dental care, which we know is important not only for oral health, but for overall health. We are pleased that, with this agreement, the preparatory work can start to begin rolling out the Canadian Dental Care Plan by the end of the year.”

The main contract is expected to be awarded in fall 2023, pending Ottawa’s approval.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officially started accepting applications for the Canada Dental Benefit on Dec. 1, 2022. The program will be fully implemented in 2025.

Once fully implemented, the program will support up to nine million uninsured Canadians who have an annual family net income of less than $90,000 in getting the oral health care they need, with no co-pays for those with family incomes under $70,000, according to the federal government.

Ottawa first announced the new dental benefit program in March 2022. Budget 2023 proposed to provide $13 billion over 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2023 to 2024, and $4.4 billion ongoing to Health Canada to implement the Canadian Dental Care Plan.

‘Efficient procurement process’

“Every Canadian deserves good oral health care, which is an essential part of overall health,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of public services and procurement. “Thanks to a competitive and efficient procurement process, we are one step closer to providing quality dental care services that meet the needs of Canadians.”

The first stage of the procurement process for the Canadian Dental Care Plan took place between July 25 and August 22, 2022, when Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) issued a Request for Information that sought input from the industry on potential requirements and models for the new program.

PSPC issued an Invitation to Qualify (ITQ), inviting suppliers with expertise in the field of dental and health claims processing to express their interest in becoming a qualified supplier. The invitation was open from Oct. 28 to Dec. 5, 2022. In January this year, Ottawa selected three qualified suppliers to participate in the following stages.

Between January and May 2023, PSPC and Health Canada worked with the qualified suppliers to gather feedback and recommendations to inform the program requirements and the resulting Request for Proposal (RFP). They issued the RFP to the qualified suppliers on June 21, 2023. Suppliers had until July 20, 2023, to submit their proposals.

Eight in 10 Canadians value health insurance above other insurance, according to a previous survey. And these benefit packages can cover expenses for things like medical care, dental care and vision care for employees and their families.