The Canadian Travellers' Report Card

Spring 2010 CSANews Issue 74  |  Posted date : May 27, 2010.Back to list

Here is an excerpt from the third edition of the Canadian Travellers' Report Card. To view the full English report with a province by province breakdown, please visit www.snowbirds.org.

The third edition of The Canadian Travellers' Report Card examines five areas of importance to travellers. We researched the practice and policies of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and then gave each government an opportunity to comment. The information gathered, including government feedback, was to grade each jurisdiction based on standards elsewhere in Canada and our view of best practices.

Canadians who embark on long-term travel nonetheless pay a full year of taxes to the federal and their provincial or territorial governments. They must pay for infrastructure and other government services that they do not use for a full year, but one thing they expect and deserve is to have full, equal access to the health care and drug coverage for which they pay taxes. Unfortunately, in many cases these taxpayers are denied the same benefits as those who remain at home. Canadians should not have to choose between exercising their right to travel and having access to the health care they may need.

In 2002 and again in 2006 we made a series of recommendations to protect the rights of travelling Canadians. We are pleased that many provincial and territorial governments have responded with improvements to service and coverage. On the other hand, some governments have made little progress at all, and we are disappointed in their apparent lack of concern for travellers.

We examined the following topics:
  • Preservation of health coverage for regular travellers
  • Access to emergency health coverage when travelling
  • Access to prescription drugs for use during travel
  • Access to voting rights for travellers
  • Availability of government information
IMPROVEMENT

Since our last report, several governments have improved their policies for frequent travellers.

The federal government, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Québec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all improved their overall standings. No province declined.

TRENDS

Compliance with the Canada Health Act:

Perhaps the single most important development since our last report was the federal government's effort to ensure that Canadian residents get the same access to emergency health services while outside Canada as they enjoy in Canada. The federal government publicly reminded provinces and territories that they must reimburse travellers for emergency services performed outside Canada at the same rate that they would pay if similar services were rendered in the province or territory. Given that several provinces still do not live up to this responsibility, we call on the federal government to begin enforcing this obligation and standing up for the rights of Canadian travellers.

Improved voting rights:

The federal government, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and PEI all adopted fixed election dates. This trend let Canadians plan their travel and still exercise their democratic rights as citizens. Regrettably, Ontario remains the only place in North America that does not provide for special balloting by residents who are absent on election day. All governments should provide on-line access to all rules and forms required for absentee balloting and make it easy to submit completed forms electronically.

Inadequate coverage for prescription drug supplies:

New Brunswick made it easier for travellers to get extended supplies of prescription drugs before departing the province. Most governments still need to ensure travellers get the same period of coverage from their prescription drug plans as from their other health plans.

Availability of government information:

Some governments improved the quality and accessibility of their online information for travellers, but many health- and drug-plan websites still need to consolidate information for travellers in one, easy-to-find location. Several elections websites need updated information on absentee balloting.




Related links
Travellers' Report Card in PDF Format