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Government Relations
Ron Steeves
First Vice-President
The U.S. elections
are behind us and,
at the end of the day, not much has
changed. President Obama has been
re-elected, the Republicans maintain
control of the House of Representatives
and the Democrats retain their majority
in the Senate. So what does this mean
for our “Canadian Retiree Visa”? As I out-
lined in the last issue of
, not
much had happened over the summer
and fall due to the impending election.
Most congressional committees have not
met since early summer, as the members
of those committees turned their atten-
tion to getting re-elected in their home
states. With the election over and the
“lame duck” session of Congress about to
begin, we’re hopeful that we’ll see some
significant movement on this front be-
tween now and the end of January 2013.
Our bills are currently before both the
House and Senate Judiciary Committees
and we look forward to addressing
the members of those committees in
Washington, when our bills are called for
further debate and scrutiny.
During the summer, CSA President
Bob Slack and our Director for
Central Canada John Foster met with
Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin
Duncan. Saskatchewan snowbirds have
always been able to receive a six-month
supply of prescription medication for
their winters south, but the method
used in obtaining it was cumbersome
and inconvenient. The online billing
system would only process one three-
month supply within a 45-day period. A
traveller obtaining a six-month supply
would have to submit receipts for two,
three-month supplies of medication. This
meant significant upfront out-of-pocket
costs, as well as the inconvenience of
seeking reimbursement afterwards.
As the Saskatchewan government
would eventually provide reimburse-
ment, we saw this as more of a red tape
issue than a financial one and thought
that the government would be receptive
to our arguments. We have long been of
the opinion that government drug plans
should provide a full six-month supply of
medication up front, so that travellers can
enjoy their vacations without worrying
about when they would be reimbursed
for medically necessary prescriptions.
In August, the minister agreed to imple-
ment a pilot program in conjunction
with selected pharmacies and the results
were positive. On November 2, Minister
Duncan announced that the pilot pro-
gram would now be implemented prov-
ince wide and that Saskatchewan snow-
birds may now receive up to a six-month
supply of prescription medication with
the cost absorbed up front by the provin-
cial government. No more out-of-pocket
costs, no more inconvenient reimburse-
ment receipts to worry about. In short,
a big win for the Canadian Snowbird
Association. On behalf of the association,
I would like to thank Minister Duncan
and the Government of Saskatchewan
for listening to the concerns of our
Saskatchewan members and taking ac-
tion to solve this problem. It is refreshing
and sincerely appreciated.
The fourth edition of
The Canadian
Travellers Report Card
will be released
at Snowbird Extravaganza in Lakeland,
Florida on January 29, 2013. As many of
you are aware, the report card is a na-
tional evaluation of federal, provincial
and territorial governments’ policies of
importance to travelling Canadians. As
a matter of fact, we used the third edi-
tion of the report card to highlight the
importance of the prescription medi-
cation reimbursement issue with the
Saskatchewan government. As you can
see from our win in Saskatchewan, it
remains an effective tool when dealing
with our elected officials. I urge all of you
to download a copy from our website at
the end of January
or, if you’re planning to attend any of our
winter shows, we’ll be happy to provide
you with one.
In November, the newly elected PQ
government in Quebec introduced a bill
that, if passed, would bring in fixed elec-
tion dates. Under Bill 3, elections would
occur on the last Monday of September
every four years. In a minority govern-
ment, that rarely happens. Still, fixed
election dates are something which we
have always supported – particularly
in majority governments – as this lends
some certainty around timing for travel-
ling Canadians. Hopefully, it will soon be
the law.
Mywife Judy and I look forward to see-
ing you at Snowbird Extravaganza
in Lakeland in January.