Page 10 - CSANews 82

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2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the
Canadian Snowbird Association.
right…in March 1992, 1,055 people gath-
ered at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland,
Florida and formed what was then known
as the Canadian Sunbelt Association. In
1991, the Ontario government signifi-
cantly reduced out-of-country emergency
hospital coverage that led to a 300 per
cent increase in supplemental insurance
premiums for Ontario snowbirds.
Snowbirds were angry, and rightly so.
They’d paid their taxes, saved their money
and played by the rules for their entire
lives. Canadians who embark on long-term
travel still pay a full year of taxes to their
federal and provincial/territorial govern-
ments. They must pay for infrastructure
and other government services which
they do not use for a full year and they ac-
cept this. The one thing that they expect
and deserve is to have full, equal access to
emergency health care, for which they pay
taxes. Those founding members knew that
if Ontario could get away with reducing
out-of-country emergency hospital cover-
age, what was preventing Prince Edward
Island, Manitoba or British Columbia from
doing the same thing?
It became increasingly clear that fed-
eral, provincial and territorial govern-
ments of all political stripes were not liv-
ing up to their obligations to travelling
Canadians. Something had to be done to
defend the rights and privileges of ALL
travelling Canadians. Twenty years later,
the 1,055-member Canadian Sunbelt
Association has become the Canadian
Snowbird Association and we are 70,000
members strong!
What have we achieved together?
Snowbirds couldn’t vote in federal elec-
tions when they were outside of the
country…now they can. Saskatchewan
residents who spend six months outside
of Canada every year may now take short
trips within Canada during the summer
months to visit friends and family. They
couldn’t do that before we got involved.
Prince Edward Islanders have seen their
payment for emergency out-of-country
hospital care increase from a maximum of
$576 per day to a maximum of $1,055 per
day. That would not have happened with-
out our involvement.
Ontario residents can now access suffi-
cient prescription medication to last them
throughout their entire winter travels and,
in 2002, we appeared before the United
States Congress to fight the passage of a
bill that would have limited Canadians to
just a 30-day visit. Ten years later, we are
again walking the halls inWashington, D.C.
with bills in both houses of Congress that,
if passed, would allow us an eight-month
visit. These are just small examples of the
political victories which we have achieved
together and yet, there remains so much
more work that still needs to be done.
We couldn’t do any of this without you
and I sincerely thank each and every one
of you for your continued support of the
Canadian Snowbird Association.
Well it was yet another busy winter
of Snowbird Extravaganzas and Winter
Information Meetings. Once again, these
incredible, free shows of entertainment
and information allowedme tomeet many
of our members in Florida, Arizona, Texas
and California. These shows provide great
opportunities for me and your Board of
Directors to hear what’s on your mind. The
direct feedback which we receive is invalu-
able in assisting us in setting our goals for
the upcoming year. I’m happy to report
that we continue to sign up many new
members at these winter events, which is
obviously critical for our continuedgrowth.
I would also like to thank all of the volun-
teers who assist us year in and year out
with putting on these amazing events. This
winter, I heard many positive comments
about the job that Medipac International
continues to do as our insurance provider.
Not only do they do essential work keep-
ing us safe on our travels, we simply could
not bring you the Snowbird Extravaganzas
and the CSA Winter Information Meetings
without them. They have been with us
every step of the way for these past 20
years and they do a great job on our behalf.
Although we have been spending a
great deal of time in Washington, D.C.
these days working towards implemen-
tation of the “Canadian Retiree Visa,” we
still have many issues left to resolve right
here in Canada. Many (almost all) provin-
cial governments continue to ignore the
portability principle of the Canada Health
Act and many of their policies make it dif-
ficult to obtain the amount of prescription
medication which many of us require in
order to enjoy our winter travels. Disparity
continues to exist from jurisdiction to juris-
diction regarding just how long travellers
are permitted to remain out of their home
province/territory every year without los-
ing their government health benefits.
These continue to be critical issues; as a
matter of fact, they are the very reason for
the existence of this association. We have
not lost sight of their importance. Soon, we
will begin work on the latest edition of our
Canadian Travellers’ Report Card. This will
provide us with another opportunity to
sit down with elected officials from coast
to coast during the next eight months and
remind them of their obligations to tax-
paying, travelling Canadians.
Spring is in the air! Lois and I wish all of
you a safe and happy time at home
visiting with friends and family.
Bob Slack
CSA President
Welcome home to Canada!