President's Message Issue 63

Summer 2007 CSANews Issue 63  |  Posted date : Aug 07, 2007.Back to list

Joan and I love to get away during the cold winter months and enjoy the warmer climate in the southern states. It is, however, always great to return to Canada to see our children and grandchildren and to travel this great country.

As you are aware, when we are in the United States, we travel right across the South, as well as into Mexico, conducting what we call Extravaganzas and Winter Information Meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to keep our members up to date with what is going on in Canada and also what the CSA is doing on behalf of all travelling Canadians. This spring, we entertained more than 50,000 people at 16 events; these meetings were organized by Chris Bradbury and the staff of Medipac International. We receive many compliments at these meetings and very few complaints. I accept the compliments and pass the complaints on to Chris. If you have not joined us at one of these events, please look in the CSANews magazine for a meeting in your area and come along. Don't forget to bring a friend; the meetings are free to everyone.

When back in Canada, it is time to plan the locations for our Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations which are held across Canada. Once again, these meetings give us an opportunity to meet our members and prospective members, and provide them with information and entertainment.

You will have noticed that the association has increased the membership dues – this is the result of increased printing and mailing costs. You can, however, save money by joining or renewing for more than one year. If you would now like to become a lifetime member, we will deduct what you have already paid over the past five years from the cost of lifetime membership. For example, if you have been a member for the past five years, you will save $100.00 on a lifetime membership.

In Florida, we are still concerned about rising property taxes and property insurance. We are actively working on these problems and I hope to meet shortly with Governor Crist to once again discuss these issues. The governor is aware of the concerns of snowbirds, both American and Canadian. We will keep you updated on these issues on our website and in the magazine.

In our last issue, the Honourable Marjory LeBreton, leader of the Senate and secretary of state for seniors was interviewed and announced the formation of the new National Seniors' Council. I had the privilege of meeting with the senator in her office on Parliament Hill. We discussed some of the concerns of our members and I promised that the CSA will do everything it can to support the council.

On May 1, I travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick for a meeting with the Honourable Mary Schryer, minister of state for seniors. During the meeting, we discussed the fact that New Brunswick was not in compliance with the Canada Health Act by only paying up to $100.00 per day for out-of-country emergency health care. I stated that we were not asking the government to pay the high cost of U.S. hospital stays; we just want them to pay the same amount as they would have paid, had the emergency occurred in New Brunswick.

The minister listened to our presentation and stated that she would present it to the cabinet. I strongly recommend that all New Brunswickers contact their local MLAs and request that they support our recommendation. In fact, I suggest that every member across the country contact his or her provincial representative (MPP, MLA and MNA), as well as the members of the opposition and point out that the only province in Canada obeying the Canada Health Act is Prince Edward Island. We have paid our taxes for all of our working lives and still pay our taxes to both the federal and provincial governments, even if we are absent from the country for short periods. We should not be discriminated against.

My next trip was to Manotick, Ontario to present the President's Award to one of our hard-working volunteers, Betty Kelly. Due to illness, Betty was unable to receive the award at the time of the Lakeland Extravaganza. I am sure that you all realize how important our volunteers are to us. We would not be able to put on these events without their assistance.

Joan and I were also in Downsview, Ontario to speak at the de Havilland retirees' luncheon. This was an interesting meeting for Joan, as she once worked as the secretary for the chief photographer of de Havilland. She was able to meet several people with whom she had previously worked. The luncheon gave us an opportunity to sign up several new members.

On May 15, it was off to Ottawa once again. This time with our executive director, Lawrence Barker, to attend a stakeholder consultation concerning the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, hosted by Foreign Affairs Canada. The meeting was to discuss the passport issue. The CSA has always recommended that members carry a passport as the best form of identification. As you are by now aware, you must have a passport to enter the United States by air. The target is to also bring this into effect for land and sea crossings by January 1, 2008. In order to cope with the increase in demand for passports, Passport Canada has hired 500 new employees. At the present time, approximately 200,000 applications are in process and 20,000 are being processed per day. Passport Canada staff are working overtime to respond to this increased demand. You can, however, expect to wait for up to 50 days to receive your passport after your application has been submitted. If you wish to travel out of Canada this fall, you should get your application in NOW.

On May 24, I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Provincial Police Veterans' Association (OPPVA) at which I was invited to make a presentation on the CSA to more than 200 attendees. Many of these former police officers are already CSA members.

Following the OPPVA meeting, it was off to Queen's Park in Toronto to attend a press conference organized by Tim Hudak, MPP for Lincoln-Erie. In September 2006, I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Hudak and present him with the fact that Ontario was the only place in North America (including Mexico) that did not allow absentee residents to vote by a mail-in ballot. Mr. Hudak introduced a private member's bill in the Ontario legislature, "An Act to Provide Fair Access to Vote for Snowbirds, Students, Military Personnel and Other Ontarians Abroad." During the press conference, I urged all members of the legislature to support Mr. Hudak's bill and enhance the democratic rights of Ontario travellers.

The association is currently accepting applications and resumés from members wishing to serve on the CSA board of directors. The new board will be ratified at the Annual General Meeting to be held in Lakeland, Florida in January 2008. The nominating committee has been approved by the board and will be meeting in mid-July to select a slate of candidates. I would like to wish all applicants good luck – you could not work on behalf of a better association.

To all of the members who have already renewed their CSA membership, as well as making a supplementary donation to our Special Action Fund – thank you! If you have not already sent in your renewal, I would urge you to do so – or to renew over the Internet or by telephoning the CSA office – right away. There truly is strength in numbers when we lobby, on your behalf, with governments in both Canada and the United States.

Joan and I would like to wish all members a safe and enjoyable summer.