President's Message Issue 38

Spring 2001 CSANews Issue 38  |  Posted date : Mar 08, 2007.Back to list

It has been a very eventful winter for the Canadian Snowbird Association and I'm very proud of all that we've accomplished.

In addition to the Snowbird Extravaganzas in Florida, Texas and California, as well as the Canadian Snowbird Celebration in Arizona, the CSA was extremely busy with our five Winter Information Meetings ­ one in Yuma, Arizona and four throughout Florida. I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with thousands of people at these events, and feel a personal satisfaction in knowing that we've enrolled more members at the meetings this year than in previous years.

On January 30, 2001, Canada's Governor General, Madame Adrienne Clarkson, read the Speech from the Throne to all Canadians, and the CSA applauded. She stated in her address, "The government of Canada will uphold the Canada Health Act. It will work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all governments continue to fulfil their commitment to the principles of medicare." These comments reflect the goals and mandate of the Canadian Snowbird Association ­ to preserve and protect the rights of travelling Canadians. We have long argued that the Portability Principle of the Canada Health Act was being ignored by the majority of our provinces (Yukon and Northwest Territories are in compliance), and Madame Clarkson has opened a very heavy door for us to, again, state our case with the federal government.

Section 11(1)(b)(ii) of the Canada Health Act is quite explicit in its direction that the provinces:

Must provide for and be administered and operated so as to provide for the payment of amounts for the cost of insured health services provided to insured persons while temporarily absent from the basis that...

...where the insured health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the province, with due regard, in the case of hospital services, to the size of the hospital, standards of service and other relevant factors.

We are extremely grateful for this announcement, and sent out a press release expressing our sentiments ­ and congratulations - to the federal government.

Over the winter, we received many copies of letters that our members had sent to their provincial ministers of health. These letters are a direct result of our CSA Grass Roots Advocacy Campaign initiative that was published last summer. This was an eight-page guide to the CSA's advocacy activities, outlining the issues pertinent to snowbirds in each province. In addition to providing sample letters, we also offered each health minister's direct contact information. We see this publication as an invaluable guide to the political climate (as it pertains to snowbirds) across the country.

The recent Alberta election brought about some interesting correspondence. The CSA contacted each provincial party leader and asked, if elected, what they would do to ensure Alberta's compliance with the Portability Principle of the Canada Health Act. The response from Premier Klein's campaign manager (on party letterhead) assured us that Alberta was in compliance. We issued a media release stating how pleased we were to hear that, if re-elected, Premier Klein would most likely increase Alberta's out-of-country rates, as it was currently paying $100 per day.

Just days later, the CSA's executive director, Heather Nicolson-Morrison, received a call from Premier Klein's campaign manager. In their conversation, he indicated that Alberta was, in fact, complying with the CHA. Ms. Nicolson-Morrison briefly outlined why it wasn't. He agreed, and stated that Alberta should be in compliance and that the matter would be rectified. Heather was assured that our information would be taken to the government.

The very next day, we were informed that, after speaking to a staff person, Alberta was in compliance with the Canada Health Act by paying $100 towards emergency out-of-country medical coverage and, obviously, the Canadian Snowbird Association did not interpret the CHA as they did.

Ah, politics. Needless to say, we've already been in touch with Alberta's minister of health regarding this episode.

We are moving very quickly on our Traveller's Bill of Rights, and the subsequent report card for each province. Please be sure to read Paul Jenkins' Government Relations Report on page 10. We need your input to ensure that we're speaking on behalf of our entire membership.

You will all be receiving a very important envelope in the mail within the next few weeks. In it will be your CSA renewal information. I encourage you all to take time to read the letter being sent to you and, if you haven't already done so, to make your membership pledge. Our lobbying efforts are moving at full speed, and we need the support of our members to continue our efforts. There is still a lot of work to be done, and we need to know that you're with us in all of our endeavours.

Many of the CSA government advocacy initiatives depend on the Special Action Fund (SAF) for financing. It is through your generosity ­ your donations to the SAF ­ that we will be able to continue our work. No donation is too small, and the benefits of sharing are far-reaching. Together, we can effect the changes necessary to ensure the rights of all travelling Canadians.