Government Relations Report

Winter 2008 CSANews Issue 69  |  Posted date : Dec 23, 2008.Back to list

In the last edition of CSANews, I alluded to the fact that a federal election may well be right around the corner. As we all know, that is indeed what has transpired and at first glance it would appear that not much has changed, or has it? True, we do have another conservative minority government with the other parties maintaining their pre-election positions in the opposition pecking order. What this also means is that we now have some new faces in the federal cabinet, opposition critic portfolios and in the House of Commons whom we need to bring up to speed on our priority issues.

In the last edition of CSANews, I alluded to the fact that a federal election may well be right around the corner. As we all know, that is indeed what has transpired and at first glance it would appear that not much has changed, or has it? True, we do have another conservative minority government with the other parties maintaining their pre-election positions in the opposition pecking order. What this also means is that we now have some new faces in the federal cabinet, opposition critic portfolios and in the House of Commons whom we need to bring up to speed on our priority issues.

Leona Aglukkaq is Canada's new federal minister of health. Prior to her election and appointment to cabinet, Ms. Aglukkaq served as the minister of health in Nunavut. No doubt her previous experience will serve her well in her new portfolio. We are already pursuing a meeting with Minister Aglukkaq to discuss our concerns.

On behalf of the CSA, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing federal health minister Tony Clement for all of his assistance to the association over the past 2½ years. You may recall that in February 2007, at the request of the association, Minister Clement went on record and wrote to Canada's provincial and territorial health ministers expressing his concern regarding the widespread non-compliance with the portability criterion of the Canada Health Act. Although that did not solve the problem, it was the first time that a federal minister of health went on record to support the CSA in this important fight. Minister Clement's door was always open to us and we sincerely thank him and wish him all the best in his new portfolio as minister of industry.

Good news from Ontario. As previously reported in CSANews, the association has been working with Ontario Progressive Conservative Health Critic (and former Ontario health minister) Elizabeth Witmer to ensure that Ontarians have access to an adequate supply of prescription medication while travelling.

Ontarians can maintain their health benefits and remain out of Ontario for up to 212 days (approximately seven months) in any 12-month period. Ontario's Drug Benefit Program had only covered the cost of a 200-day supply of prescription medication, leaving a 12-day gap between the amount of time for which one was allowed to continuously travel and the amount of medication that one could access.

This past July, Ms. Witmer wrote to Ontario Minister of Health David Caplan asking him to look into this issue. She also took the time to draft a private member's bill that would have potentially corrected this legislative oversight. In October, Minister Caplan wrote to tell us that if you have 30 days or fewer left on your current prescription, the ministry will allow an early refill of your next 100-day supply and your pharmacist may also dispense an additional 100-day vacation supply. This allowance enables you to take between a 200- and 230-day supply of medication while travelling, depending on when you request your early refill and vacation supply. While it doesn't completely solve the problem, it comes very close and it represents a vastly improved situation for travelling Ontarians. Our sincere thanks to Ms. Witmer for all of her hard work and to Minister Caplan for permitting this important allowance.

My wife Lois and I recently had the privilege of attending the awards ceremony for the South Florida Chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT). The event was held in Miami to honour Marcy Grossman, consul general of Canada in Miami, with the OWIT 2008 Ambassador Award. This is in recognition of Ms. Grossman's dedication and support to both the international community in Miami and the OWIT organization. Ms. Grossman has long been a friend of Canadian snowbirds and on behalf of the CSA, I offer her our congratulations.

Last but by no means least, I was part of a contingent that represented the CSA at the 2008 International Plowing Match held in Teeswater, Ontario in September. The International Plowing Match and Rural Expo is an annual event that was established in 1913. Every year, people have come together to watch the horse, oxen and tractor plowing competitions, savour country apple pies, shear sheep, square dance, sing folk songs, pitch horseshoes, go to the farm machinery show or even enter to win the Queen of the Furrow contest.

Why would the CSA be in attendance? Well, we are always looking for new members and this year, more than 94,000 people participated over a five-day period! It is also a notorious politician magnet and presents a great opportunity to get our message out to our political decision-makers. Some of the notable political faces in attendance this year were Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario Opposition leader John Tory. We received many positive comments from existing CSA members who were pleased to see the CSA promoted in a community setting. We also signed up more than a few new members!

My wife Lois and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and we look forward to seeing you at Snowbird Extravaganza in Lakeland!







Related links
Letter from the Ministry of Health