COVID-19 fee appears on bills at the dentist and some businesses in Ottawa

As businesses and services such as dentists, mechanic shops and salons reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic; some places are passing on the cost of personal protective equipment to customers.

Not everyone is happy about having to pay the extra fees. Stephanie Platero is heading to the dentist next week, but was surprised to find out there is an added fee,

“I think the $18 stood out for me, mainly because it’s just high; it’s a very high cost.”

Her dentist is charging a COVID fee for additional PPE, "Right now, I’m not sure if it’s reasonable for the $18 to be passed down."

The fee is something that is not unique to just her dentist. Dr. David Stevenson is with the Ontario Dental Association, and is a practicing dentist in Carleton Place.

“We’re not recommending that all dentists use it, this is something that each dentist must take on an individual basis… because the PPE requirement is different in every different situation - it’s different for different people, it’s different for different procedures and so it won’t always be the same.”

Dr. Stevenson says he’s not charging the fee, but some dentists are.

“Yes, these are added costs. Yes, a dentist has to run a business, and the business that they’re running is like a mini-hospital.”

In a written statement to CTV News Ottawa, the Canadian Dental Association explains.

“An aspect of the cost increase comes as a result of additional enhanced personal protective equipment requirements by health authorities and other regulators. The cost factor is compounded by rising prices of PPE due to worldwide shortages. “

Heather Wilson was also charged the fee when she went to her dentist.

“It kind of makes sense, because they have to put on so much stuff.”

An added COVID fee is not something that is unique to just dentists; nail salons and barbers are charging it too. Tyler Boswell was charged an extra $1.50.

“I guess businesses would be more transparent with a COVID-tax or something like that, I think it’s better for consumers to see that added charge on a receipt compared to just an added price.”

Customers may have to get used to paying something like a COVID-19 fee - Maryse Smith was charged one by her mechanic, and says she was surprised.

“When I went, picked up my car keys, I called - then she came out with a paper bill afterwards; and then, I noticed that there was a surcharge and I was like, oh - that’s a bit odd, because it wasn’t mentioned or anything.”