Employees are experiencing an increase in the cost of products and services, and the cost of medical plan claims is projected to increase by 7%.1 A contributing factor to this increase is historically high 2023 Dental Fee Guide increases, with Ontario fees rising by 8.50% compared to past increases of 4.75% in 2022, 4.60% in 2021, 1.27% in 2020, and 4.19% in 2019.2

The dental fee guide is a document that provides recommended fees for various dental procedures and services. Dental insurance companies and employers often use it as a benchmark for determining reimbursement levels for dental care. The impact of increases in the dental fee guide in Ontario and nationwide can be significant for both dental patients and practitioners.

One impact of significant increases in the dental fee guide is that patients may face higher out-of-pocket dental costs. This can be particularly challenging for low-income individuals and families who may struggle to afford necessary dental treatments. It can also be a barrier to accessing care for the uninsured or underinsured.

Another impact that dental practitioners may see is a decrease in the number of patients seeking care due to the increased cost. This can lead to decreased revenue for the practitioner and may also result in reduced access to care in certain areas. Additionally, dental practitioners may experience increased pressure to raise their fees to match the recommended prices in the dental fee guide, which can be difficult for small and solo practices that are already struggling to keep up with overhead costs. This can lead to financial strain and eventually force them to close their practice.

Increased fees may also lead dental practitioners to focus more on providing more profitable services and less on providing preventative care, which can negatively impact the overall oral health of the population.

Overall, the recent significant increases in the dental fee guide in Ontario and nationwide can have a range of negative impacts, including increased patient costs, reduced access to care, and financial strain for dental practitioners. Policymakers and stakeholders need to consider the potential consequences of these increases and take steps to mitigate any negative impacts.

What can employers do?

There are several steps that employers can take to mitigate the impact of significant increases in the dental fee guide on their employees and their own bottom line. Some potential actions include:

  1. Offering flexible benefits plans: Employers can provide employees with a range of dental benefits options, including plans that allow employees to choose their own providers and pay out-of-pocket costs. Doing so will enable employees to select the best plan for their needs and budget.
  2. Monitor your experience closely with your consultant: If the results are trending significantly above budgeted cost, take proactive measures to manage via cost containment options or cost sharing.
  3. Encouraging preventive care: Employers can encourage employees to take advantage of preventive care services, such as regular cleanings and check-ups, by providing incentives and education about the importance of oral health.
  4. Offering dental insurance options that cover a broader range of procedures: Employers can provide insurance plans that cover a more comprehensive range of procedures, including orthodontic and cosmetic treatments, which can help to reduce the overall cost of dental care for employees.
  5. Offering a Health Savings Account: Employers can offer their employees Health Savings Accounts (HSA), which are tax-advantaged savings accounts used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including dental care.
  6. Partnering with dental clinics or providers: Employers can partner with dental clinics or providers to offer discounted rates to their employees.

What’s next?

Talk to your Cowan consultant today. By taking proactive steps, employers can help to mitigate the impact of significant increases in the dental fee guide on their employees and their own bottom line. It’s important to note that these actions may vary depending on the jurisdiction,3 and employers should always check the legal requirements and regulations before implementing any measures.

Province* Increase Effective Date
Alberta 6.00% January 1, 2023
British Columbia 5.99% February 1, 2023
Manitoba 5.25% January 1, 2023
New Brunswick 7.57% January 1, 2023
Newfoundland & Labrador 8.50% January 1, 2023
Nova Scotia 5.92% January 1, 2023
Ontario 8.50% January 1, 2023
Prince Edward Island 5.77% January 1, 2023
Quebec 9.80% January 1, 2023
Saskatchewan 5.62% January 1, 2023


1  Sun Life. (February 18, 2020). Provincial dental fee increases for 2020. Retrieved from URL.
2 Benefits Canada. (November 30, 2022). Cost of medical plan claims expected to increase by 7% in 2023: report. Retrieved from URL.
3 Sun Life. (March 30, 2023). Provincial dental fee increases for 2023. Retrieved from URL.