Statistically Speaking

Winter 2009 CSANews Issue 73  |  Posted date : Dec 12, 2009.Back to list

I recently received a handwritten note from my high school math teacher. His name is Frank Milne and he has been missing for 50 years. Well, perhaps it is me who has been missing but, whatever the reasons, our paths have crossed once again and it brings back a flood of wonderful memories. At the ages of 13 and 14 and perhaps 15, Mr. Milne took a few of us aside, after school, and taught us the beauty of mathematics. We were called the "Math Club." It wasn't easy being in the Math Club; all our friends thought that we were wasting our time when we could have been "hangin' around" with them, probably doing nothing. Boy, were they wrong.

Frank, I think I can call him that now as that is how he signed his note, spent thousands of unpaid hours leading us to inescapable conclusions, fantastic possibilities and ingenious proofs. This was, and I am sure still is, Frank's world, and he allowed us to share it, to learn from it and to become a part of all his experiences. Frank groomed us carefully and then he sent us out to compete in city contests, then to provincial math events and then we found ourselves writing the International Math Congress exams. What an experience! I don't have to add that we all did very well and that there are still some copies of old newspapers in which our names were etched, forever.

There is not any day that goes by that I do not use the tools that Frank taught me. He made us flip coins to learn probability theory, we drew graphs of functions and equations to see what they really meant and he instilled a sense of order to our turbulent young world through the use of geometry, quadratic equations and statistics. The results are very easy for me to see…I am a very good bridge player…in a casino, I am a statistician not a gambler…I understand the trends and movements of the stock markets and thus, make money…the insurance industry is my profession and I live and breathe its statistics on a daily basis. And it is all so much fun!

Thanks, Frank Milne!

All of our senior people at Medipac have this same voracious appetite for statistics and trends. Medipac designed its own computer programs because the ones in normal use just could not get the information that we needed to do the proper job for our clients. We now have four dedicated employees refining and upgrading our systems to stay at the leading edge of technology for our enrolment processes, medical assistance services and claims administration. We receive daily reports on every aspect of our business and I thought that you might find some of them interesting.

According to a Conference Board of Canada's recent travel report, "Canadians made 4 per cent fewer outbound pleasure trips between January and September 2009 compared with the same period in 2008. Outbound pleasure trips to the U.S. are off by 7.3 per cent, while pleasure trips to destinations other than the U.S. are up by only 2.3 per cent. Last year at this time, pleasure trips to the U.S. were up by 11.6 per cent, while pleasure trips to other destinations were up by 10.1 per cent."

The important statistic here is that trips to the U.S. are down by 7.3% so far this year and trips to anywhere outside of Canada are down by 4%. These are very understandable statistics as people are very concerned about the turbulence in the financial and real estate markets and many people have lost a great deal of money in these ridiculous "meltdowns." Medipac's statistics, however, are showing a very different pattern to this gloomy outlook.

From January to September 2009, the number of our insurance policies increased by 10.7%. This represents the number of people travelling after New Year's Day as well as those who purchased our Early Bird policy for this year's later travel. Some would say "but that is apples and oranges," but it is not. There are dozens of additional factors involved, but they are all neutral to the actual effect and this is a shift of about 18% above the Conference Board's figures. This speaks of consumer confidence in our snowbird market and it is growing – not a green shoot, but a bloody large green tree, if you ask me.

Confirming statistics are everywhere. Our annual add-ons are up by 14% and this means that lots more people are planning to take extra short trips. Medipac Plus is up by more than 25% and our online enrolments have increased by a staggering 44%, albeit from a fairly low starting number. Since we are really talking about teachers in this story, 15% more teachers have used our top-up program so far this year and I expect that number to increase dramatically as the travel season evolves.

The coup de grace, of course, is what is happening right now. We are flooded with telephone calls and Internet applications and our walk-in centre is often crowded. The number of September policies – up by 23.74 %; October policies – up by 28.4%; November policies – up by 27.53% with two more days to go. These numbers speak of a robust Canadian snowbird community in the southern United States and Mexico this year, and I hope that the many American snowbirds will be able to join us, too.


In closing, I would like to tell you who Frank really is and I have attached his brief and understated biography. Frank has a scholarship fund so that others can be as lucky as I was to find a mentor and a teacher and a place to excel in this complicated life. We are all very lucky people and I hope that some of you will see fit to slip a hundred-dollar cheque into an envelope to this wonderful man so that he can do more. You see Frank, himself, would never ask, so he may be mad at me now. Thank you.

The Frank E Milne Scholarship
Frank Milne taught mathematics and physics at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax. This is where he organized a very successful Mathematics Club. Frank's accomplishments are astounding. He has been awarded the degrees of B.Sc., B.Ed. and M.A. and he holds a Nova Scotia Certificate in Educational Leadership. Frank's ancillary positions, titles and honours are too many to mention; his involvement in the community has been extensive. Of recent, Frank was awarded the prestigious Queen's Golden Jubilee Award, which honours Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their community or to Canada.

The Frank E Milne Scholarship was first awarded in June 1992. The original objective was to award the scholarship to a graduate of Queen Elizabeth High School (QEH); however, in recent years the scholarships have been awarded to other high schools, as well.

Scholarships are awarded to high school graduates who are Honour Students (in top 15% of class) with good math marks and demonstrated leadership in student activities, sports or in the community.

To obtain more information or to make a donation, please contact the Frank E Milne Scholarship Foundation at:

The Carlyle – Suite 1005
6095 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS  B3H 4K1
Email: milnescholarship@ns.sympatico.ca
Phone: (902) 421-1144
Fax: (902) 421-2114