President's Message Issue 56

Fall 2005 CSANews Issue 56  |  Posted date : May 23, 2007.Back to list

I can't believe the summer has gone by so fast. We have been very busy attending political functions as well as meeting with individual government officials. We presented the concerns of you – our members – and can only hope that we were able to get them to understand. The rights for which we are fighting are not only for present members, but for our children and all future snowbird travellers. If we do not fight for it today, tomorrow could be too late.
I am sure that all members are pleased with the new publications that have been developed over the summer and which were included in this year's 2005 member renewal kit. The CSA Travellers' Checklist and the CSA Travel Information Guide 2005 Supplement will no doubt become snowbird travel standards. We have received many compliments from members on these publications, which were put together with the assistance of many members and our directors.

Looking to our fall program, I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with many of our members in Ontario and Eastern Canada. Last year, the fall Lifestyle Presentations travelled to Western Canada. This year, we will be starting in Windsor, Ontario, and stopping to meet with members in Quebec and the Maritimes. Please come out to one of the presentations. More importantly – bring your friends. They are also welcome to attend with you FREE OF CHARGE. They may become members when they see what the association does on behalf of all travelling Canadians. Don't forget the KEY MEMBERSHIP pin – all you have to do is sign up five new members and you will receive a special recognition pin plus a free one-year membership. If any of your family or friends do join the association, either at one of our Lifestyle Presentations or by contacting the CSA office, be sure that they quote your name or membership number so that you will be given credit for the referral. Key members are recognized at all CSA events.

Thinking ahead to the fall also means that it is time to start preparing to travel south for another snowbird season. Part of my preparations is to ensure that my wife and I have up-todate Canadian passports before we leave. A passport is the best means of identification that proves both my identity as well as my Canadian citizenship. You will remember that it was the CSA – your association – that visited Washington and fought for the ability of Canadian citizens to still visit the U.S. for a full six months (182 days) each year. Canadian permanent residents, as well as citizens of other countries, do not have that same privilege without applying for a separate U.S. visa.

In addition to our passports, my wife and I also carry a copy of the Closer Connection Form 8840 that we mailed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the previous year. A copy of the current year's form was mailed to each CSA member in good standing with the membership renewal invoice this past May. To prove our continued connection to Canada as our permanent main home, we also carry the deed to our Canadian home as evidence that we intend to return to Canada in the spring.

We visit our doctor for a complete checkup at least 90 days prior to leaving, and we purchase travel insurance. The cost of health care is extremely high in the U.S. That is why no one should travel outside of Canada without proper out-of-country supplementary health coverage. As you know, the current low provincial reimbursement rates (not one province is obeying the Canada Health Act) is a key ongoing advocacy issue for the association with all provincial governments across Canada.

In addition to preparing ourselves for travel, we also take our cat to the vet and ensure that she is healthy and ready to accompany us south for the winter. One year, we forgot to bring along her vaccination certificates. That oversight cost us several hours of delay as we were told – at the border – to go home and get them before we could cross. In addition to any U.S. requirements, it is important to remember that certificates for any pets will be needed for the animal's re-entry into Canada at the end of the travel season.

Vehicle safety is also important for any snowbird traveller. Having your vehicle checked and fully serviced is critical to avoid problems or costly delays en route to our winter destination. I ensure that my driver's licence and vehicle sticker are valid for the total period of time for which I will be away (you can actually apply up to six months in advance to renew your licence in most provinces). I speak with my insurance broker to verify that my vehicle is adequately covered while driving in the United States. I also renew my CSA auto club membership.

If you are like me, you are enrolled in the Snowbird Currency Exchange Program. Monthly transaction fees have recently dropped to just $2.00 for annual members and free for CSA lifetime members! A great value-added benefit to CSA membership. If you are not already enrolled, call the CSA office today.

If you live in Ontario or Eastern Canada, mark your calendar for the date of the upcoming Lifestyle Presentation and do come and say hello. Look elsewhere in CSANews, as well as on our website for information on the Extravaganza in Lakeland, Florida on January 17-18, 2006. There are also a number of other Winter Information Meeting locations and Extravaganzas planned across Florida, Arizona, Texas and California this coming winter. Do come out and support the association at these events. Like our Lifestyle Presentations in Canada, your friends down south are also welcome.

Whether you drive or fly to your winter destination, my wife and I wish you safe travelling this fall. If you have any questions, remember that the CSA is only a telephone call away.

Pic 2: CSA President Gerry Brissenden discussing snowbird issues with Stephen Harper, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada at a riding association BBQ event in Orangeville, Ontario.

Pic 3: The Hon. Jessica LeCroy, U.S. Consul General in Toronto and CSA President Gerry Brissenden at the U.S. Consulate General Toronto – 229th celebrations of U.S. independence in Toronto.