Government Relations Report Issue 37

Winter 2000 CSANews Issue 37  |  Posted date : Mar 07, 2007.Back to list

Your CSA Government Relations Committee has been busy over the last few months, and we are happy to report some real progress for our efforts.

CSA TRAVELLER'S BILL OF RIGHTS
The CSA is proud to announce our new policy platform called the "CSA Traveller's Bill of Rights" ("CSA TBR"), soon to be a reality.

Simply, the CSA TBR is a document that identifies and describes various rights of all travelling Canadians, including snowbirds, and seeks to provide an annual report card on each government's adherence to these principles.

The CSA TBR organizes within a single document, various CSA issues, including: (a) the enforcement of the portability section of the Canada Heath Act; (b) reasonable and uniform residency requirements in each of the provinces; (c) supply of prescription drugs equal to residency requirements within each province; (d) retiree visa and (e) Canada/U.S. cross border entry/exit control systems. The CSA is also in the process of identifying other issues affecting all traveling Canadians, to add to our "Report Card."

The CSA intends to build on the CSA Special Report (a yearly CSA publication which describes various issues affecting CSA members), by hiring professionals to provide us with the necessary background reports and analysis to present our positions effectively to government and others.

We will use the CSA TBR to lobby for change and to hold governments publicly accountable for their success or failure in upholding the fundamental rights of all travelling Canadians. Our report cards, which shall be graded by an independent and objective body, will be widely publicized as part of our campaign to effect change.

We anticipate providing you with full details in our next issue of the CSA NEWS in the Spring of 2001.

CANADA HEALTH ACT UPDATE
On October 31, a letter was sent from President Bob Jackson requesting all five national parties to respond to the CSA by November 13 with their positions regarding what action their candidates and their party would take to ensure compliance to the Enforcement Section 11(b)(ii) of the Canada Health Act (CHA).

On November 14, we released a media advisory outlining the responses received from the parties. On the whole, we were not pleased with the overall attitude of the letters or the lack of commitment to the CHA. As of that date, The Progressive Conservative party and the Bloc had not responded. The Alliance Party invited the CSA to "come to the table", but did not appear to understand the act as it pertains to the CSA. Neither the Liberals nor the NDP answered our questions. The advisory underlined the political power we Snowbirds actually possess during this election and alluded to the issues that evolved during the recent U.S. presidential elections with out-of-country voters. We have subsequently received a response from the Bloc Quebecois outlining their general support of the CHA.

MANITOBA GRANTS 200 DAYS SUPPLY OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
The CSA and our Manitoba Director, Malcolm Joyce were instrumental in lobbying the Manitoba Government to allow snowbirds to seek reimbursement for a 200 day supply of prescription drugs in any six month period.

Section 8(2) of the Manitoba Prescription Drugs Payment of Benefits Regulation was amended by order-in-counsel and became effective as of November 1, 2000, which changed the former policy of limiting re-imbursement in any 90 day period to a maximum of a 100 day supply of prescription drugs.

The extra 100 day supply of prescription drugs will allow Manitoba snowbirds to purchase enough eligible prescription drugs before they leave the country. However, this benefit is not automatic and Manitoba snowbirds must make an application for this benefit in person or in writing to Manitoba Health, Registration Department, 300 Carlton St. Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 3M9 or by sending a letter request by fax at (204) 783-2171.

Although no formal application is required, your letter request should include the following minimum information: (a) name(s); (b) current address; (c) telephone number; (d) Manitoba Health Number; (e) reason for absence; (f) date of departure; (g) date of return; (h) out-of-country address; and (i) signature and date (the "Application Letter").

Manitoba Health will review your application and issue you (1) Temporary Out-Of-Country Province Certificate ("Certificate") and (2) an Authorization Letter.

Upon receipt of your Authorizing Letter, present it to your pharmacy. Your pharmacy will register your name in the pharmacy's computer, indicating your eligibility. Note, that this in no way affects your payment of any provincial deductible related to such expenditures.

You must make a new application every year and such application can be made at any time during the benefit year, April 1 to March 31.

In the event that you fail to receive authorization prior to your departure, you can submit for review your prescription receipts to Manitoba Health, Provincial Drug Programs, 300 Carlton St., Winnipeg Manitoba, R3B 3M9 upon your return to Manitoba.

If you require any additional information regarding this matter you may contact Manitoba Health, Provincial Drug Programs at (204) 786-7141 or 1-800-297-8099.

The CSA would like to expressly thank our Manitoba Director, Malcolm Joyce for his vigilant efforts in effecting change within the Province and our thanks to the Government of Manitoba for recognizing the potential cause to snowbirds and taking effective action.

ALBERTA RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS IMPROVED!
We are pleased to announce a major victory with Alberta's Health Care Insurance Plan Coverage. Just prior to CSA News press time, the CSA's Alberta Director Carol Brown-Heutinck received word that the Alberta government has amended its residency requirements to maintain provincial health care coverage. Residents leaving Alberta temporarily for another part of Canada with intention of returning within 12 months, or leaving Canada with the intention of returning within six months, will be able to maintain coverage during their absence. To clarify this point, Alberta residents can travel internationally for six months, and travel the remaining six months within Canada's borders provided they maintain their principal residence in Alberta. An extension of coverage for up to 24 months can be arranged.

For further information, call (780) 427-1432 (Edmonton), 310-0000 (toll free in Alberta) or visit www.health.gov.ab.ca

CSA'S GRASS ROOT ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN
The CSA would like to thank all those CSA members who responded to our "Grass Roots Advocacy Campaign" by communicating (i.e. by phone, fax, mail and e-mail) to your Member of Parliament.

We received copies of hundreds of responses and believe these measures bring focus to our elected officials on our issues.

We urge you to continue this campaign in support of the CSA's initiatives.

RETIREE VISA "ON THE ROPES"
Retiree Visa advocate, Republican Bill McCollum lost his senatorial race on November 7, 2000 to Democrat Bill Nelson, Florida's former Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner.

The results of the Florida senate race were 2,988,836 votes for Nelson and 2,704,151 votes for McCollum or 51% and 46% respectively.

Obviously, with McCollum's departure the Retiree Visa is in jeopardy, and the CSA and others must look for new alternatives.

CANADIAN PASSPORT RENEWAL UPDATE
You will recall earlier this year we reported on a proposed Passport renewal program as outlined to our President Bob Jackson and myself.

In this letter from the Chief Executive Officer of the Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade in Ottawa it was anticipated this new program, knows as "IRIS" would be operational by mid 2000.

Although IRIS is being tested in several locations we are now told that implementation is at least six months away. We will keep working on this.