Page 10 - CSANews 83

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10
CSA
update
President’s
message
As many of you are aware
, the
Canadian Snowbird Association has
been lobbying the government of
Canada to adopt a 10-year passport for
many years. Although they have ap-
proved our request in principle, there
have been many delays with respect to
the implementation phase. I am happy
to report that there is now light at the
end of the tunnel.
On May 3, 2012 I, along with CSA
Executive Director Michael MacKenzie,
testified before the Senate Committee
on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade in Ottawa regarding Passport
Canada’s Fee-for-Service proposal to
Parliament.
The delay with respect to these new,
security-enhanced passports has pri-
marily revolved around the question
of cost. With the enhanced technology
and the doubling of its lifespan, we as-
sumed that the price would be more
than the current $87, but the question
is how much more? As an organization
comprised primarily of seniors on fixed
or limited incomes, our concern has al-
ways been around how much the gov-
ernment was going to charge.
Although we would ideally like to
see some form of seniors’ discount with
respect to passports, as a cost-recovery
organization, we do recognize the eco-
nomic reality that confronts Passport
Canada.While Passport Canada is a gov-
ernment institution, it operates much
like a private-sector enterprise. Passport
Canada finances its operations entirely
from the fees charged for passports and
other related travel documents. There
is no parliamentary appropriation; the
service is supported by applicants,
rather than by all taxpayers.
During our many discussions with
Passport Canada, we were surprised to
learn that Australia charges $233 for a
10-year ePassport. Our initial concern
was that this might be the number at
which they were looking.
At the other end of the spectrum,
the United Kingdom charges $122 for a
10-year ePassport, while the price in the
United States is $135. I think it’s safe to
say that we were hopeful the proposed
fee increases would result in a price
closer to the United Kingdom model
than to the Australian model.
So what have they proposed? The
proposed cost is $160 for a 10-year
passport. Again, although we would
obviously have preferred a lower num-
ber, we lobbied hard to limit it to what
they have submitted to Parliament.
Canadians would actually pay less per
year of validity for the new 10-year
ePassport than for the current five-year,
non-electronic passport. After many
discussions, we felt that this was, quite
frankly, as good as it was going to get
and we support it.
While we appreciate the recent ef-
forts which Passport Canada has made
to increase customer service, getting a
passport is not exactly the most pleas-
ant thing that people could do with
their day and it remains particularly
challenging for many seniors from
smaller communities.
It is this issue of convenience that we
find to be the most attractive and com-
pelling reason to move to the 10-year
passport, at least from the point of view
of the Canadian traveller.
I can also report that for those of
you who do not wish to purchase a
10-year passport, you will have the op-
tion of obtaining a new five-year ePass-
port. That cost of that document will,
unfortunately, be increasing from the
current price of $87 to $120. This is due
primarily to the increased cost of the
technology used to produce this new,
security-enhanced document.
The rationale for the new technology
is that it will contribute to protecting
our borders and preserving the ease of
international travel which Canadians
currently enjoy. Possession of an ePass-
port is increasingly becoming a require-
ment for maintaining visa-free access to
foreign countries. With approximately
95 countries now issuing these new
passports to their citizens, Canada is
one of the last major industrialized na-
tions without an ePassport.
The transition to the new passports
begins before the end of 2012 and,
starting in the spring of 2013, all new
Canadian passports issued will be elec-
tronic passports. Your current passport
will still be valid until its current expira-
tion date.
Snowbird travel season will be here
faster than we think. A great way to
prepare is by attending one of our an-
nual Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations.
This September (and October 1), we
will be making stops in Alberta, British
Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
and Ontario. We are putting on a total
of nine shows this year and you can find
dates, times and locations elsewhere in
this edition of
CSANews
.
Lois and I wish you a safe and happy
summer relaxing with family and
friends.
Bob Slack
CSA President