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CSANews
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WINTER 2013
As all of you
who read this column
on a regular basis are no doubt aware,
our “Canadian Retiree Visa” proposal
(contained in the JOLT Act) has been
passed by the United States Senate. In
order for it to become law, the JOLT Act
must also be passed by the U.S. House
of Representatives and signed by the
President of the United States, who has
stated that he will do just that.
In the Senate, JOLT was attached to the
massive immigration reform legislation
which passed this past June. The bad
news is that there has not been much of
an appetite on the House side to deal with
immigration reform legislation this year.
The good news is that there doesn’t neces-
sarily have to be an appetite; JOLT can still
pass in the House either as a stand-alone
bill or as an attachment to a different bill.
In the fall edition of
CSANews
, I
mentioned that JOLT had 70 bipartisan co-
sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Since then, CSA President Bob Slack and
staff have been to Washington, D.C. in
an attempt to add to that list. As we go
to print, we now have 109 members of
Congress co-sponsoring our bill. Reaching
100 co-sponsors is a significant milestone,
even more significant when you consider
that the support from Democrats and
Republicans is split right down themiddle.
It’s a long and sometimes frustrating
process, but we are making significant
progress.
Thank you to all of our Alberta mem-
bers who have contacted their provincial
elected officials requesting that Alberta
extend out-of-province health coverage
from six to seven months.
On October 9, 2013, CSA President Bob
Slack and Director for Western Canada
Rick Thorpe met with Alberta Minister of
Health Fred Horne to discuss this import-
ant issue. The next day, they met with
Leader of the Official Opposition Danielle
Smith, Health Critic Heather Forsyth and
Seniors Critic Kerry Towle. The talks went
well and we’re hopeful that we can get
this worked out soon, so that our Alberta
members will enjoy the same level of flex-
ibility that our members in many other
provinces currently enjoy.
On October 29, 2013, CSA Executive
Director Michael MacKenzie and Research
Officer Evan Rachkovsky travelled to
Regina to meet with members of the
government of Saskatchewan’s Caucus
Standing Policy Committee on Human
Services. The committee is comprised of
elected members of the legislature. Their
job is to examine legislative proposals in
the areas of health, social services, educa-
tion and labour and provide advice to the
provincial government.
Saskatchewan residents are permit-
ted six months out of the province in a
calendar year while still maintaining their
provincial health benefits. Additionally,
the current provincial government has
notified the CSA in writing that the
“Ministry of Health’s Health Registration
Branch does not monitor (and never has)
short-term absences.”
Practically speaking, this already gives
Saskatchewan snowbirds the flexibility
which they may need during the summer
months to visit family and friends in other
jurisdictions, without risking a suspension
of their provincial health benefits. That’s
a good policy and we thank the govern-
ment for it. Having said that, I’m sure that
we’d all feel a lot better if that policy were
formalized in law; that was the purpose of
our visit.
The MLAs with whomwe met were very
supportive and understood our desire to
formalize a policy that they are already
following. I’m confident that we will soon
have an official regulatory change which
reflects that.
We have a new government in the prov-
ince of Nova Scotia. On October 8, 2013,
Nova Scotia’s Liberal party was elected to a
majority government. Opposition Leader
Stephen McNeil becomes the 28th pre-
mier in the history of this great province.
You know, the CSA has always believed
that, in addition to lobbying government
officials, we should never fail to bring our
concerns to those elected officials who
are members of the opposition parties.
Today’s opposition member is often to-
morrow’s government member.
This past summer I, along with CSA
President Bob Slack, travelled to Nova
Scotia to meet with then-Health Minister
DavidWilson in an effort to convince Nova
Scotia to increase time permitted out of
province (without the loss of health bene-
fits) from six to seven months. Minister
Wilson was very receptive and agreed to
make the requested change.
We also arranged to meet with then
Opposition Leader Stephen McNeil and
Opposition Health Critic Leo Glavine.
Again, both were very receptive with Mr.
McNeil writing, “a Liberal government will
introduce changes to the legislation to ex-
tend coverage from six to seven months.”
Today, Opposition Leader McNeil is
Premier McNeil and Opposition Health
Critic Leo Glavine is the Minister of Health.
On behalf of the Canadian Snowbird
Association, I would like to thank Premier
McNeil, HealthMinisterGlavineand former
Health Minister Wilson for their commit-
ment to Nova Scotia snowbirds.
CSA
update
Government Relations
report
Ron Steeves
First Vice-President