Healthcare Issues Swept Under the Rug

Posted date : Nov 03, 2000.Back to list

Toronto, Ontario:  “The party leaders have buried their heads in the sand to avoid answering our question on a key healthcare issue.  If they can ignore 200,000 Canadians BEFORE the election, heaven help us for the next four years,” says Bob Jackson, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA).

Section 11(1)(b)(ii) of the Canada Health Act (CHA) states that a provincial health insurance plan must pay the same amount for out-of-country health services that it would pay for similar health services within the province, with due regard to certain factors.   Currently, five of our provinces are in contravention of the Act by paying a flat, un-indexed amount - without any reasonable explanation of how such an amount was calculated. It is clearly explained in the CHA that the provinces have the right to restrict these payments to only emergencies.

We sent a letter to each party, simply asking their position on the Canada Health Act (CHA), particularly, the Portability Principle and what they would do to amend the current situation if elected, continued Jackson.  We've yet to hear from the Progressive Conservatives and the Bloc.  While we're encouraged by the Alliance Party's invitation to come to the table, it's obvious they haven't done their homework.  They haven't a clue as to who or what snowbirds are. Our West Coast members are outraged by the outright arrogant hypocrisy of the Liberals while ignoring the issues for the past seven years, they've taken out advertisements in BC touting their commitment to the CHA.  British Columbia is by far the worst offender by paying just $75 per day in out-of-country in-patient care.  The NDP, while identifying problem areas in the Canadian Healthcare system did not answer our question nor make a commitment.

The Federal Government, after consultation with the non-conforming provinces, can withhold transfer payments to the provinces in order to ensure compliance, yet it has done nothing.  We wanted to know how each party would handle this blatant breach of contract between the provincial governments and the people, added Jackson.  This section of the CHA is of particular concern to snowbirds many of whom winter in the south for health reasons. The provinces’ lack of adherence to the CHA combined with the rising costs of medical care in the U.S. has caused the rates for supplemental insurance to increase dramatically.   As a result, many seniors have been forced to re-evaluate their winter plans either cutting short or eliminating their trips entirely.  It is the Canadian Snowbird Association’s view that it is far cheaper to increase out-of-country payments, to what they should be paying, than to face an influx of visits to Emergency Rooms due to flu and falls on ice etc.  Injuries sustained in Canada will place an additional burden on already over-crowded ERs plus put a strain on the number of available hospital beds.

It's time that politicians realized who exactly is voting…and that snowbirds out of country have a say as well, says CSA Executive Director, Heather Nicolson-Morrison.  Snowbirds are Canadian citizens who have worked their entire lives, paid taxes and continue to pay taxes.  They worked on assembly lines, as teachers and as bus drivers.  They have fought for our country…and they’ve worked very hard for what they have now.  Right now, there are 200,000 eligible voters outside of Canada, and when one considers the value of out-of-country votes to Vice President Gore and Governor Bush, you’d think our leaders would be racing to give answers.

A Canadian law is being broken.  Is there a political party willing to right this wrong and put it in writing?  The Canadian Snowbird Association would like to know before November 27.

For Information/interviews:
Bob Jackson

Heather Nicolson-Morrison
Executive Director
Canadians Snowbird Association    
(800) 265-3200