President's Message - Issue 76

Fall 2010 CSANews Issue 76  |  Posted date : Oct 01, 2010.Back to list

Well here I am writing to you in the fall edition of CSANews... can you believe it? It's certainly been one of the hottest summers in quite a while here in Ontario, but we all know that this won't last much longer. Before you know it, we'll be embarking on our respective journeys to our winter destinations. Despite some recent fluctuations, the Canadian dollar looks strong and that bodes well for another great winter of snowbird travel. If you find yourself in Ontario this September before heading to your winter home, I strongly encourage you to spend an afternoon with us at one of our annual Snowbird Lifestyle 

Presentations. This year, you will find us in Orillia, Sarnia, Kingston, Port Hope, Peterborough and Richmond Hill. As always, you'll be treated to another great afternoon of top-quality musical and comedy entertainment. It's also a great opportunity to learn the latest about some of the products and services out there that can really enhance your winter snowbird experience. Finally, you'll learn all the latest about what your association and our friends at Medipac are doing on your behalf. The best part? Well, once again, admission is absolutely free and everyone is welcome so spread the word and bring your friends. Dates, times and specific locations can be found elsewhere in this issue and on our website at www.snowbirds.org.

On a less pleasant note, during the summer I've had a few people approach me with their concerns about the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While our friends in Louisiana are bearing the brunt of this terrible accident, the oil has largely stayed away from Florida's beaches. As this edition of CSANews goes to press, the well has finally been capped and, with the exception of a small area in the Florida panhandle which is in the far northwestern part of the state, it appears that the rest of Florida will not have to contend with oil on their beaches

Florida has approximately 180 beaches, 164 of which have been spared entirely. Even the majority of the beaches in the panhandle that were briefly affected are now clean and clear. None of this is meant to downplay the fact that this was a significant tragedy; 11 people lost their lives and countless others have had their livelihoods dramatically affected up and down the Gulf Coast. My point is simply that the region's biggest hurdle now is perception, not oil. 

These communities depend so much on our snowbird dollars and they need them now more than ever. I spend my winters in Florida, as do hundreds of thousands of Canadian and U.S. snowbirds and when it gets a little colder, I'll be packing my bags to enjoy the Florida sun just like I always do. I know that this situation will not affect regular snowbird travel, but it could well have an impact on those who don't make the annual journey to escape the cold. If you have friends and family who were planning a winter visit to Florida, Texas or any of these communities up and down the coast, please encourage them to go; our hosts down south need our help now more than ever and the beaches are open for business. 

I have been spending a fair bit of time this summer sitting down with some of the provincial politicians in Ontario, urging them to raise their provincial reimbursement rates for emergency out-of-country hospital expenses. Most recently, I sat down with Liberal MPP Jim Brownell and Conservative MPP Steve Clark. Earlier in the summer, CSA Second Vice-President Nancy Hopcraft and I had the same discussion with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. 

Any time you're asking politicians to increase health-care funding it's always a tricky issue, especially when you're facing a $20 billion deficit, as is the Ontario government currently. At the end of the day, this is an issue of fundamental fairness. As snowbirds, we have to pay a full year of taxes to our federal and provincial governments and we pay for an entire array of services that we obviously do not use for that full year. That's fine, we accept this. However, the one thing that we do expect is to have full, equal access to the health care and the drug coverage for which we pay taxes. We are simply asking the Ontario government and all other provincial governments that are violating the portability principle of The Canada Health Act to obey the law. They need to start reimbursing emergency in-patient services required by travellers at the same rate per day as that paid for similar services within their province. We are not asking them to pay the high costs of U.S. hospital stays, and our proposed changes will not cost Ontario or any other province any more money than if the emergency had occurred while the patient was in the province. There is a provincial election next year in Ontario and now is the time to seek the commitment of our Ontario politicians to right this fundamental wrong.

The retiree visa issue is full steam ahead. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently on their summer recess, but contacts have been made and we are busy preparing for a full slate of meetings in Washington early in the fall.

My wife Lois and I wish all of you a safe journey. If you're in Ontario in September, take in one of our Fall Lifestyle Presentations – we'd love to meet you.