President's Message Issue 59

Summer 2006 CSANews Issue 59  |  Posted date : May 28, 2007.Back to list

Once again, it is time to report what your association has been doing on behalf of you as well as all travelling Canadians. In the last issue of CSANews, we provided a synopsis of the recently released Canadian Travellers' Report Card. You will have noticed that, out of 70 ratings, there were only 12 As and three Fs. Two of the Fs were in British Columbia. You will no doubt agree that there is still a lot of work to be done. Over the past couple of months, copies of the report card were sent to every federal, provincial and territorial elected politician, as well as a general press release to all major media outlets. I am pleased to report that we have received many letters of response from politicians and I am sure that we will be interviewed by the media. If you would like a copy of the full report card, please visit our website at www.snowbirds.org, where you can download a copy free of charge.

As I have said on many occasions, we are not asking for anything to which we are not entitled. Firstly, we are Canadians and should be allowed to travel anywhere in this great country at any time and still retain the right to health care. You will discover, however, that in many cases we are only allowed to be absent from our home province for up to six months, after which we could lose the right to health care. We have paid taxes for all of our working lives to both the federal and provincial governments and still do, even if we are absent from the province. Secondly, when it comes to emergency health care while outside of Canada, most of the provinces are discriminating against travellers. The portability section of the Canada Health Act clearly establishes the fact that portability includes emergency health services provided to Canadian residents while outside of the country. Just because we have worked and saved for the right to travel in our retirement years, we should not be treated any differently than someone who does not wish to travel. Most of the provincial governments do not provide the same services to travellers as they provide to non-travellers.

You will notice when reading the report that the provincial governments differ regarding this and other issues of concern to us. A goal for the CSA is to see standardization across Canada. If you would also like to see standardization, please read those sections of the report that concern your province and contact your provincial and federal politicians to let them know how you feel. We need for everyone to make their voices heard.

Your directors and I will be requesting meetings with key federal and provincial politicians in order to discuss our findings and to ensure that progress is made before our next evaluation.

In early May, our executive director Lawrence Barker and I met with senior representatives of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Ms. Ladan Manteghi, AARP's president of Global Networks and Ms. Lin MacMaster, AARP's director of membership development were visiting Toronto to conduct fact-finding and good will meetings with similar Canadian organizations. The meeting was very positive and concluded with an invitation for AARP to meet again with the CSA to discuss possible opportunities for joint initiatives in support of our members.

On May 11, our executive director Lawrence Barker and I were invited to attend the Team Canada Atlantic Trade Mission that was hosted in Miami by Canadian Consul General Marcy Grossman. This mission was attended by the four Atlantic premiers, as well as by the foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Peter MacKay. Florida Governor Jeb Bush was the special guest. The purpose of this mission was to increase trade between the Atlantic provinces and Florida.

On May 18, our research and communications officer Mike MacKenzie and I received an invitation to sit in the prime minister's personal gallery in the House of Commons to hear a speech given by Australian Prime minister John Howard to a joint session of Parliament. Following the address, we attended a private meeting with a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office to discuss the Canadian Travellers' Report Card.

Since its inception, the CSA has advocated for the federal government to set fixed election dates. This would allow travellers time to prepare. Two weeks after my meeting in the Prime Minister's Office, the federal government announced a proposal to do exactly that and set fixed dates. Should this measure pass, the next federal election would be held on October 19, 2009.

I recently received a telephone call from the office of the premier of British Columbia advising me that the premier would be pleased to meet with us to discuss the association's concerns. Is our report card having some effect? I will report on this meeting at a later date.

On June 21, together with our research and communications officer Michael MacKenzie, I was invited by members of the United States Congress to attend, along with Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson, a reception in Washington, DC, to discuss issues such as passports, tourism and commerce. Although our lobbying efforts in Canada are very important to all travelling Canadians, we cannot neglect making our voices heard to politicians in the United States. This meeting afforded me the opportunity to put our association in front of many members of Congress, as well as Ambassador Wilson. I met with Republican congressman Henry E. Brown Jr. from South Carolina, Democratic congressman James Oberstar from Minnesota and the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, the Honourable Michael Wilson. for a more detailed account of the CSA's trip to Capitol Hill, please consult this issue's edition of the Government Relations report.

On the same day – June 21 – our executive director Lawrence Barker represented the association at a Queen's Park press conference in Toronto concerning ongoing work towards the passage of the proposed Homestead Act – a private member's bill sponsored by Tim Hudak, MPP for Erie-Lincoln. Information on this property tax initiative was also reported in the last issue of CSANews.

In addition to our government advocacy work, we are also busily preparing for our fall Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations that will begin this year in British Columbia, and will then move back to Ontario. We will be holding meetings in eight different locations. Please check to see if and when we will be in your area this fall.

Remember, attendance at the presentations is free. We would love to meet you, as well as your friends.

With respect to the ongoing passport issue and the creation of a proposed border-crossing card, please watch the CSA website – www.snowbirds.org – for updates as they become available. If you live in Southern Ontario, you can also listen to the CSA report on AM 740 radio at 10:50 a.m. (ET) on Sundays. Broadcasts of past shows are also made available on a new section of our website for playback by those who miss the live show or who live beyond the station's broadcasting area.

As you can see, this is already shaping up to be a busy spring and summer for your association and its directors. Until our next update report, remember Dr. Bob MacMillian's top 10 list for healthy aging, as printed in the last (spring) issue.

To the many members who have already responded promptly with their CSA membership renewal payment – thank you! Together, in order to achieve everything we hope to with government, we need your support. If you have not already renewed your membership, please do so today!

My wife Joan and I wish you a safe and enjoyable summer.