ewly installed Federal Health Minister Jane Phil-
pott has indicated that one of her highest priorities
will be the negotiation of a new Health Accord
between the provinces, territories and federal government.
The stated goal is to set national standards and provide
provincial and territorial partners with stable, predictable,
The 2004 Health Accord expired in 2014 and was not
renegotiated by the previous federal government. Early
indications are that the discussions will initially focus on
expanding access to affordable home care and affordable
prescription medication. We know that our population is
aging and, statistically, we are living longer so affordable
expansion in these areas is more important than ever.
As an association, we are always concerned when the conver-
sation concerns national health-care standards. One of the
five pillars of the Canada Health Act is portability. Sub-para-
graph 11(1)(b)(ii) of the act clearly establishes that portability
includes emergency health services provided to Canadian
residents while outside of the country. The act states that
when emergency health services “are provided out of Canada,
payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have
been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the
province.” The intent and purpose of sub-paragraph 11(1)
(b)(ii) are clear. Unfortunately, the federal government has
shown an unwillingness to enforce the standard which it has
set in the act. Travellers seeking to protect their entitlements
under the act, through litigation, have been told by the courts
that it is up to the federal government to decide whether the
act has been contravened and whether to impose a penalty on
the provinces.The failure of previous federal governments to
act in this regard is a disappointment to travelling Canadians
and undermines the credibility of their own legislation.
Rest assured, we will be reminding our federal members of
parliament of our concerns during the negotiation of the
new Federal Health Accord.
In October 2014, we asked our Saskatchewan members to
engage in an e-mail and letter-writing campaign requesting
that the government of Saskatchewan amend its temporary
absence policy in order to increase the amount of time which
residents may spend outside of the province and still remain
eligible for their provincial health coverage, from sixmonths
to seven months.
At the same time, the CSA remained active in advocating
for this policy change in meetings with the premier and the
minister of health, as well as members of the Human Services
Policy Caucus Committee.
We are pleased to announce that the Saskatchewan gov-
ernment has, effective January 1, 2016, formally increased
the length of time for which residents may be absent from
Saskatchewan, from six to sevenmonths (over any 12-month
period), while still retaining continuous provincial health
coverage. Saskatchewan is now the eighth province to permit
out-of-province absences more than six months in length.
Saskatchewan snowbirds will now be able to visit friends and
familymembers outside of the province, after returning from
their winter vacation, without fear of losing their provincial
health coverage. This is great news for Saskatchewan snow-
birds and another big win for the members of the Canadian
On behalf of the association, I would like to thank Premier
BradWall and the Honourable Dustin Duncan, minister of
health, for taking the concerns of our Saskatchewanmembers
seriously and making this happen. It’s no wonder that they
are currently the most popular provincial government in
Please do keep inmind that current U.S. policy unfortunately
still limits the amount of time that Canadian citizens can
legally spend in the United States to six months less a day,
in any 12-month period.
The long-delayed implementation of the joint Canada/U.S.
Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for
Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness
what? Still delayed.
Part of the declaration includes a bi-national border initia-
tive in which entry and exit data will be shared regarding
individuals travelling between Canada and the United States.
While the initial stages have already been implemented, the
information shared has been limited to permanent residents
and third-country nationals.
In March, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama
agreed to implement the arrangement which had been pre-
viously negotiated with the government of Prime Minister
Stephen Harper. The originally scheduled implementation
date of this phase of the initiative had been June 30, 2014.
Legislation must now be drafted and put to a vote in Parlia-
ment before the sharing of entry and exit data for Canadian
citizens becomes a reality. As more information becomes
available, we will certainly keep you updated.