President's Message Issue 61

Fall 2006 CSANews Issue 61  |  Posted date : Jun 01, 2007.Back to list

Wow! What a busy fall season it has been.

Our travels started off with the CSA board of directors’ meeting in Victoria, British Columbia. It was at this meeting that the board decided it was necessary to increase the annual membership fee from $20 to $25 (for up to two people living at the same residence). This increase – the first in five years – is due primarily to the rising costs of operating your association.

Prior to the board meeting, our directors were busy holding “grassroots” meetings. These are small,town hall-type meetings at which the directors have a chance to discuss what the association is and has been doing for all travelling Canadians. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and, if they are not already CSA members, are encouraged to join and support us in our efforts with the various governments.

In addition to these local public meetings, your directors have also been busy meeting with local members of parliament (MPs) and their provincial counterparts (MPP, MLA, MNA) to present the concerns of you – our members.

Don Gardiner, our first vicepresident and chair of government relations, together with Lawrence Barker, our executive director, attended a meeting with representatives of the Arizona Department of Commerce. This meeting was hosted by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Discussions included the effects of Florida’s Homestead Act, which does not exist in Arizona for snowbirds who own property. Also discussed was the passport issue, which is of great concern to everyone who plans to travel to the United States.

Those of you who have read our Canadian Travellers’ Report Card 2006 (available on our website at www. snowbirds.org) will have noticed that the province of British Columbia only reimburses up to $75 per day for outof- country emergency health care. For the past 15 years, your association has been trying to meet with the various B.C. premiers in an effort to get them to obey the portability section of the Canada Health Act. Finally, Premier Gordon Campbell agreed to meet with us. Prior to this meeting, I was interviewed by various newspaper reporters, television stations and radio station “call-in” shows from B.C., Alberta, Ontario and as far away as the Yukon. Our meeting – held on September 13 – in the premier’s office in Victoria, was attended by Premier Campbell, Minister of Health George Abbott and Minister of Social Services Ida Chong. The CSA was represented by Jim Sherb, our Western Canada director, and I. The meeting was very positive and I am looking forward to some excellent results.

Next on the busy agenda were the Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations in Kamloops, Kelowna and Abbottsford, B.C. These shows were extremely successful and gave us an opportunity to meet and entertain our members as well as to sign up new members. The entertainers were very well received and everyone went home saying that they had enjoyed the afternoon program. Following the shows, Jim Sherb with his wife Alayne, together with my wife Joan and I, attended and staffed a display booth at the Snowbird RV Show in Abbottsford. This was a four-day show which gave us an opportunity to speak to RVers about the association. We signed up many new members.

Flying back to Ontario, we spent just one day at home before leaving for North Bay for the start of the Ontario leg of the Lifestyle shows. This year, shows were held in North Bay, London, Kitchener, Nepean and finally, Belleville. While in Nepean to attend the show, we had an opportunity to present our concerns to MPP John Baird, who is also a federal minister and president of the Treasury Board.

On September 9, together with our executive director Lawrence Barker, I attended a meeting with representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in Toronto. This meeting was hosted by the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat. AARP representatives included their chief executive officer, William Novelli, and Josh Collett, international consultant with AARP’s office of international affairs.

On October 12, together with Michael MacKenzie, our research and communications officer, I attended a meeting in the office of Jim Bradley, Ontario’s minister of tourism and of seniors. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the passport issue. Minister Bradley is urging the federal government to develop a secure pass card, similar to a driver’s licence, which could be swiped at a border crossing. This card would be less costly than a passport and could in fact become a form of driver’s licence enhanced with a microchip. This is the path which the CSA has been recommending the government take. It is gratifying to know that we have the support of the Ontario government on this issue. Notwithstanding the possible development of some form of alternative secure border-crossing identification, the association still recommends that snowbirds travelling for extended periods to the United States should apply for a passport, being the one internationally accepted document that proves both an individual’s identity and citizenship.

On November 29, together with our research and communications officer Michael MacKenzie, I met with federal Health Minister Tony Clement to discuss the portability section of the Canada Health Act. Also in attendance was the president of the Treasury Board, John Baird. I was very encouraged by what I heard and follow-up meetings have already been scheduled with both ministers. I look forward to providing our members with more details of these meetings in the next edition of CSANews.

By the time you receive this copy of CSANews, my wife Joan and I will have already been the guests of Florida Governor Jeb Bush in Tallahassee, Florida. During this meeting, I hope to have the opportunity of discussing the controversial Homestead Act and its impact on seasonal homeowners.

Joan and I wish you a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you at any of the Extravaganzas or regional Winter Information meetings which we will be holding over the winter months.

Thought for the day – A foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is made to make its own people comfortable.

Pic 2: L to R: Hon. John Baird, President of the Treasury Board; Hon. Tony Clement, Federal Minister of Health, and Gerry Brissenden

Pic 3: Gerry and Wallace Weylie, CSA Legal Council appear at the Florida Homestead Act Reform Committee meeting.