President’s Message Issue 50

Spring 2004 CSANews Issue 50  |  Posted date : May 05, 2007.Back to list

I am proud to have been appointed President of the Canadian Snowbird Association. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors on behalf of you, our members, and carrying on the work done by previous Presidents and Directors.

The purpose of our Association is to protect the rights of travelling Canadians. Our directors and their spouses are unpaid volunteers who work hard all year visiting both provincial and federal governments, and also working with the government of the United States.

Some of you may be aware that the U.S. immigration and naturalization service attempted to pass a bill that would have limited Canadians to a 30-day visit to the United States. Through our legal counsel Wallace Weylie, we became aware of this and by aggressively contacting the governors of the states through which Canadians travel and in which they reside during the winter season, we were invited to present our case to the "small business committee" in the United States Congress.

With the assistance of these governors and many of the major U.S. travel industry groups, we were able to convince the committee that Canadians travelling to their winter homes were not a security threat to the United States.

We stopped the passage of this very restrictive bill and Canadians are once again able to visit and stay in the United States for up to 182 days.

Crossing the border is just one of our concerns.

Another concern is the cost of out-of-country travel insurance.

The portability section of the Canada Health Act states "provincial governments shall pay the same for out-of-country health care as they pay for in-country health care." Most provincial governments have been forced to ignore the federal act due to underfunding by Ottawa and, in fact, pay considerably less for health care when we are outside Canada. Ignoring the act increases the cost of your travel insurance.

It is the belief of the Canadian Snowbird Association that by wintering in sunbelt areas, we are less of a drain on Canada's health-care system. We do not have heart attacks while shovelling snow. We do not slip and break bones on ice and we are not running to the doctor's office with the sniffles. In fact, we play golf, swim, walk, play tennis and participate in many other activities which help us stay fit and healthy.

We worked hard all our lives so that when we retired, we would be able to travel and enjoy life. The governments are preventing freedom of travel and are penalizing people who do travel. The provincial governments are not following the rules that they laid out very clearly under the Canada Health Act.

The Romanow Commission actually recommended that one of the pillars of our health-care system, "portability," be dismantled and that health care be stopped at the border. We must all resist this indirect tax grab that will further restrict Canadians' ability to travel. Mr. Romanow also recommended that the federal government increase the funding to 25 per cent of health-care costs to the provincial governments, when the Canada Health Act agreements call for funding at the 50 per cent level. Currently, funding is only at a ridiculously low 14-16 per cent and is in total contradiction of the Canada Health Act.

Our health-care system can easily be fixed if the federal government would simply abide by the laws which they passed, and fund health care at the 50 per cent level as they had agreed. This would triple the funds available for health care, reduce long waiting lines for services and save hundreds of lives.

Also, at the present time in most provinces, our travel is restricted. We believe that as Canadians, we should have the right to travel anywhere in Canada at any time and still retain our health-care privileges. We are Canadians and should not be restricted to our own provinces.

In the coming year, we intend to follow up with all provincial and federal governments on these subjects and hope to convince them to do the right thing and allow us to travel freely within our own country.

It has been said many times that, "There is strength in numbers." While we appreciate the support of our current members, we do need greater members. One of my goals as President is to double our membership during my tenure. In order to do this, I need the help of all members. This is your Association. Please help us to make it grow. If every member were to recruit just one new member, we would double our membership overnight. Yes, there is strength in numbers and numbers count when we visit and lobby the governments. DO YOUR PART. Membership is just $20.00 per couple living in the same residence.

Thank you and please drop me a line if you have any ideas regarding how we can increase our membership.