President's Message Issue 60

Fall 2006 CSANews Issue 60  |  Posted date : May 30, 2007.Back to list

I hope that everyone has been having a great summer; the weather in Ontario is just perfect. In between the many government meetings which we have been attending, I found a little time to play golf. Even if the scores may not have been very good, the exercise certainly was. We continue to be very busy working on behalf of all travelling Canadians.

On June 30, which coincidentally was our 55th wedding anniversary, I took my wife Joan with me to Timmins, Ontario, where our second vice-president Nancy Hopcraft and I were meeting with Jack Layton, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party. It is interesting to note that Mr. Layton's mother is a lifetime member of the association. While it is very important for the CSA to meet with federal, provincial and territorial politicians in the sitting government, it is also important to make our voices heard to those elected officials who are currently in opposition (and may even form the government after the next election).

During our meeting with Mr. Layton, I discussed the portability section of the Canada Health Act and pointed out that, with a few exceptions, the Act is not being obeyed. The Act clearly states that where emergency health services are provided outside of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services rendered within the province. I pointed out that, unfortunately, federal governments of all political stripes have shown an unwillingness to enforce the standard which they have set in the Act.


Where a Canadian happens to be when a health emergency occurs should not change the government's responsibility to provide needed service.
We also discussed the fact that many provinces continue to hold their residents hostage. As an example, in Ontario, residents are permitted to be absent from the province for up to 212 days and still be eligible for health-care services. Following that period of time,however, Ontarians are not allowed to leave the province, even to travel across Canada, or they cease to be eligible for provincial health-care services.
I informed Mr. Layton that the federal government has not used either the Canada Health Act or other policies to address the minimum residency requirements necessary for eligibility for insured health-care services. This has resulted in a patchwork of requirements across the country, providing residents of some provinces with much less freedom to travel than fellow residents from other provinces orterritories.
In addition to the Canada Health Act, we also discussed the passport issue. I impressed upon Mr. Layton that the association recommends that our members carry a passport as the best form of identification. That being said, the CSA does have a concern for the tens of thousands of Canadians who wish to travel to the United States for shorter durations, for example, people who travel to visit parents or grandparents, as well as millions of Canadians who live within close proximity of the Canada/U.S. border. I asked Mr. Layton to urge the federal government to consider extending the lifespan of a Canadian passport to 10 years, similar to the current United States and United Kingdom passports, or alternatively, to develop a secure travel document similar to the new PASS(People Access Security Service) card being developed in the United States. Mr. Layton listened to our presentation and agreed with the association's stand regarding these issues. I considered the meeting to be a success. It was well worth the trip to Timmins. Thanks are extended to Nancy Hopcraft, our second vicepresident, for arranging this meeting.

On July 19, I had an opportunity to visit the office of my own local member of parliament, Mr. Bruce Stanton, MP for Simcoe North in Orillia, Ontario. I made a similar presentation to Mr. Stanton, who also supports the stand of the association. I strongly urge every member of the CSA to contact his or her local federal and provincial/territorial representative and ask them why the government does not enforce the Canada Health Act.

In addition to our busy government advocacy work, it is once again time to start planning for the fall Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations. Meetings alternate between a Western Canada tour one year and an Eastern Canada tour the next. This year, we are going out to British Columbia to start our meetings, where we will have an opportunity to meet with members and their friends in Kelowna,Kamloops and Abbotsford.

While out in B.C., our western Canada director, Jim Sherb and I will be meeting with the Honourable Gordon Campbell, premier of British Columbia. I am looking forward to this meeting and hope to be able to convince him that our members from British Columbia who travel should be treated in the same way as residents who choose not to travel. In our Canadian Travellers' Report Card 2006, you will notice that British Columbia only reimburses $75 per day for emergency in-patient hospital are to travellers. This is the lowest in Canada! The B.C. PharmaCare program also covers only a 30-day supply of short-term prescription drugs, which is the smallest permissible supply in Canada. As you can see, this should be an interesting meeting.

Following our trip to British Columbia, we will be back in Ontario to hold Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations in North Bay, London, Kitchener, Nepean and Belleville. We would like everyone to come out and meet us and be entertained by Gordie Tapp, Catherine McKinnon, Tommy Leadbeater and John Bressler. You will also get to hear what your association is doing for all travelling Canadians as well as what Medipac has done, and is doing, for our members. Please bring your friends along with you; the meetings are FREE to everyone, so come out and enjoy a great day. You will notice in our Government Relations report that our directors have been very busy meeting with government officials in an effort to get them to support the advocacy work of the association. Remember, all of our directors are non-paid volunteers who work hard on your behalf. During our Lifestyle Presentations, we will be holding our 50/50 draws. All money raised goes to our Special Action Fund, which is used solely for our government advocacy work. Please support our local draws by purchasing your 50/50 tickets; someone is going to win a good pot of gold.

Once our Lifestyle Presentations conclude in early October, my wife Joan and I will be preparing, as no doubt you will be also, for our trip to our sunny winter destination. To assist you with your fall preparation, don't forget about the tips contained in the CSA Travellers' Checklist. A copy of this informative booklet was sent to all members last year. If you require a fresh copy for this year's travels, you may download a new copy free of charge from our website at www.snowbirds.org. Don't forget to also pack your copy of our CSA Travel Information Guide and supplement. Should you have any questions about travel while you are away, or if you have questions about your travel plans, don't hesitate to call the CSA office at 1-800- 265-3200 (in Toronto, 416-391-9000). To the many members who have already renewed their CSA membership for another year, thank you! To those who have not yet sent in your renewal, please do so right away. Please also talk to your friends about joining this great association. Together, there is strength in numbers when we meet with government leaders across Canada. My wife Joan and I wish you all a safe trip this fall and please stay healthy. We hope to see you at one of our fall Lifestyle Presentations.

Congratulations to the winners of the CSA membership renewal campaign contest!
$500 Gift Certificate James and Betty Malcolm One-year membership Alvin and Cecille Edstrom Ted and Cecile Van Beek Larry and Audrey Lorraine Gertley Donald and Janice Robertson John and Nancy Barrie Robert and Elizabeth Burnham Anne-Marie Lavallee Dante and Liberata Di Pede Leo and Rolande Giguere Guptill and Marjorie Hickss. Pic 1: Nancy Hopcraft, CSA Second Vice President; Jack Layton, MP Toronto - Danforth, NDP Leader; Gerry Brissenden, CSA President; Charlie Angus, MP Timmins-James Bay. Pic 2: CSA president Gerry Brissenden meets with Ms. Chris Charlton, MP for Hamilton Mountain (NDP) and federal NDP critic for pensions and seniors issues