President's Message Issue 48

Fall 2003 CSANews Issue 48  |  Posted date : Apr 25, 2007.Back to list

This past summer, as we told you in the last newsletter, has been a very active one for the CSA. I strongly believe that the only way in which we can make headway with the provinces is to open direct lines of communication with them. Writing letters is an interesting exercise, but unless we both understand with whom we are dealing and what we all want, it is almost useless. So the CSA has visited the provinces/territories to discuss the Canadian Travellers' Report Card. We have learned much about the jurisdictions from our visits and, hopefully, we have opened new doors.

We believe that we are making headway with regard to residency requirements. As tax-paying residents of a province/territory, Canadians should be free to make short trips anywhere in Canada, at any time. Upon becoming president, my goal was to see residency requirements allow for travel within Canada, once the time spent out of country had been reached, and I believe that we are very close to achieving this bench-mark.

Portability is a much more difficult 'sell' and, although we met with resistance on this point, we will not give up. Every representative with whom we met expressed his/her firm belief in this section of the Canada Health Act, but due to the current financial climate, was hesitant to even discuss increases to what they are already paying. We will keep repeating the fact that "citizenship does not end at the border."

We are shocked at the number of provinces not concerned about legislation allowing Canadians to take a sufficient supply of medication for their time away. Why allow only a three-month supply of medication when residents may be absent longer? The onus should not fall on individuals to work around the legislation! Government will be hearing much more about this.

The meetings started in the east, in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut. I then came home for a two-week break and started the western leg of the tour - Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon and British Columbia.

Paul Jenkins, our first vice-president and chair of the Government Relations Committee joined me for the Ontario visit and also attended in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and his home province of Prince Edward Island. I would like to extend my thanks to directors Jack Kiuru (Nova Scotia), Roland Belanger (Quebec), Harley Sundbo (Saskatchewan) and Peter Sloggett (British Columbia) who attended their provincial meetings. In many cases, it was difficult to schedule meetings around our directors' plans, but we know that those who could not attend the meetings were there in spirit. Please refer to Paul Jenkins' Government Relations column for in-depth information.

On July 7, it was my pleasure to attend a private meeting with Florida's Governor Jeb Bush. He visited Toronto to promote that city as a safe destination in light of SARS and, secondly, to promote tourism to his home state. I discussed a number of issues with him and gave him a token of gratitude from our association - a small Inukshuk sculpture symbolizing friendship.

We received this invitation to meet Governor Bush as a result of our joint co-operation in our initiative to shelve the (former) INS' proposed regulation limiting to 30 days the stays of those holding the B-2 Visitors Visa. Our combined efforts not only served their purpose, but they also forged a friendship between the two offices. I found Governor Bush to be extremely engaging, remarkably humorous and open to discussion. We talked about a number of issues, including the fact that our borders must remain friendly. We were really pleased when he offered to arrange meetings between the president of the CSA and other sunbelt governors.

That evening, I was a guest of Premier Ernie Eves at a reception for the governor. During the governor's address, he recognized the CSA from the floor. I met a number of dignitaries including Premier Eves, U.S. Consul Phillip Hoffman and Commissioner of Public Safety and Security Dr. James Young.

I also met Florida's secretary of health, Dr. John Agwunobi - at their request. Dr. Agwunobi emphasized that his office's mandate was to protect the health and safety of everyone in Florida - not just citizens. He stressed that the services received by Canadians should be identical to what is offered here at home - and added that if there is a problem, he wants to know about it. He will help set up similar meetings in other states - another plus for our members.

Hopefully, I will see many of you this fall and will be able to share more good news with you.