Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has prevented Quebec dentists from Thursday to disaffiliate from the public plan for the next two years, as 2000 dentists threatened to do so.
“I think that’s the thing to do. I can not accept that [some patients] are being held hostage on the basis of negotiation, while bargaining can very well be done without [a threat of disaffiliation], “said the Minister of Health , Gaétan Barrette, during a scrum of the press.
A few hours earlier, 2,000 dentists dissatisfied with negotiations with the government had filed a disaffiliation notice that was to take effect within 30 days.
If the dentists had put their threat into effect, 630,000 patients would have had to pay for all of their dental services in 30 days.
The public dental plan currently covers several dental services for children under the age of 10 and recipients of last-resort financial assistance (social assistance), such as annual check-ups, cleaning and repairs.
The minister, however, signed the same day a ministerial order that blocks all opportunities for dentists to disaffiliate for the next two years.
At the Association of Dental Surgeons of Quebec (ACDQ), it was limited to say Thursday that their lawyers were analyzing their options.
The current negotiations between the dentists and the government concern the amount that dentists should pay for the care reimbursed by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
According to the ACDQ, the care that dentists issue to children under 10 years of age and to welfare recipients are reimbursed by the public plan at a rate 20% lower than the care paid by the general population.
The group says their goal is to get a refund closer to actual costs, but that these fees have not been renegotiated since 2015.
The minister’s office responded by saying that it was “a shame that the ACDQ was conveying erroneous messages in the public forum in the midst of negotiations. We ask the ACDQ to submit their final and prioritized applications, as agreed with the latter “.