Government Relations Report Issue 63

Summer 2007 CSANews Issue 63  |  Posted date : Aug 07, 2007.Back to list

One of the greatest challenges of government advocacy work is that governments are always changing. Since last June alone, we have new premiers in Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and most recently, Prince Edward Island. Even when the government itself does not change power, cabinet shuffles seem to occur more frequently in Canadian political life than ever before.

Although the faces and names of many of our elected officials change with every election or cabinet shuffle, many of the concerns of the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) remain constant. What does that mean for the CSA? It means making sure that our new ministers, as well as members of Parliament and the provincial legislatures are quickly brought up to speed on the issues that matter most to you, our members.

With that in mind, CSA president Gerry Brissenden and CSA research and communications officer Michael MacKenzie paid a visit in May to New Brunswick's new minister of state for seniors, the Honourable Mary Schryer. As mentioned in the president's column, we informed Minister Schryer that by paying only up to $100 per day for out-of-country emergency health care, New Brunswick was not abiding by the portability section of the Canada Health Act.

Minister Schryer has agreed to present our concerns to the provincial cabinet and we will be scheduling a summer meeting with New Brunswick's health minister, the Honourable Michael Murphy to discuss this further. I am hopeful we will be able to convince New Brunswick to follow the lead of Prince Edward Island and comply with the portability section of the Canada Health Act.

The month of May also saw the introduction of Bill 231, "An Act to Provide Fair Access to Vote for Snowbirds, Students, Military Personnel and Other Ontarians Abroad" in the legislative assembly of Ontario. The goal of the bill, introduced by the conservative member for Erie-Lincoln Tim Hudak, was to allow Ontarians travelling abroad the ability to vote in provincial elections by absentee ballot. Although there are now fixed election dates in Ontario, numerous exceptions apply that could result in a provincial election occurring at many other times. An example of this would be the fact that opposition parties still have the power to force an election earlier than the fixed date, if a minority government is defeated in a confidence vote.

Although Bill 231 passed first reading in the Ontario legislature, it died on the order paper when Premier Dalton McGuinty decided to take an early summer vacation by adjourning the legislature three weeks prior to the scheduled date.

On the day on which the bill was introduced, CSA president Gerry Brissenden met with Conservative Opposition leader John Tory. Mr. Tory expressed his support for Bill 231 and recognizes that snowbirds should have the right to cast an absentee ballot in provincial elections.

For more information regarding Bill 231, please read the excellent article by Mr. Chris Guly elsewhere in this issue of CSANews.

Canada's National Seniors' Council is now a reality. President Gerry Brissenden and Michael MacKenzie were guests of Senator Marjory LeBreton for the announcement in Ottawa. As well as being Canada's secretary of state for seniors, Senator LeBreton is also the leader of the government in the Senate. Seniors in Canada are the fastest-growing group in the population. By 2031, the number of seniors will almost double to nine million people, representing close to one-quarter of the population of Canada. I sincerely believe that Senator LeBreton will prove to be an exceptional advocate on behalf of Canada's seniors and she is very much looking forward to working with the Canadian Snowbird Association in the years to come.

All in all, a very busy spring on the government relations front and I look forward to updating you on the progress which we make over the summer in the fall issue of CSANews.

Have a safe and relaxing summer.

(Pic 1) On February 8, 2007 the Canadian consulate-general in Miami hosted a
reception to honour the Hon. Michael Wilson, Canadian ambassador to the U.S. The CSA was a sponsor of the event. CSA secretary and Ontario director Bob Slack attended on the CSA’s behalf.

(Pic 2) Gerry meeting with Ontario MPP Tim Hudak to discuss absentee mail-in ballots (see page 14 for more details).

(Pic 3) Gerry meeting with Federal Opposition Leader Stéphane Dion.

(Pic 4) Gerry meeting with the Leader of the Official Opposition of Ontario, John Tory.