President's Message Issue 72

Fall 2009 CSANews Issue 72  |  Posted date : Sep 22, 2009.Back to list

You are now reading the fall edition of CSANews. As difficult as it may be to believe, it won't be long before we embark on our journeys to our winter destinations. Of course the first thing that every snowbird should be aware of is purchasing your travel medical insurance before you go. Many of you have already done this through Medipac's Early Bird program. In addition to the early bird discounts, Medipac offers both loyalty and claims-free discounts. There's even an additional 5% discount for residents of PEI, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Why? Because those governments are living up to their obligations with respect to the portability principle of The Canada Health Act and Medipac is passing on the savings. Medipac's is the only travel medical insurance program endorsed by your association and they have been providing us with outstanding service for 17 years. If you have yet to call for a quotation, I would urge you to contact Medipac right away.

The Progressive conservative Party of Ontario has a new leader and his name is Tim Hudak. At the ripe old age of 41, Tim has already served for more than 14 years in the legislative assembly of Ontario and has held the ministerial portfolios of Northern Development and Mining, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and Consumer and Business Services. Tim has also been a longtime friend of the Canadian Snowbird Association and in 2007, introduced the Fair Access to Vote Act in the Ontario legislature that would have given snowbirds the right to vote by mail-in ballot in Ontario provincial elections if it had passed third reading. To this day, Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that does not permit mail-in ballots. As we have seen in Ottawa, fixed election date legislation (as exists in Ontario) is no guarantee that there will actually be fixed election dates; this can pose a major challenge for our Ontario members! I, along with First Vice-President Bob Slack met with Tim shortly after his big win and we look forward to working with him on this and other issues of importance to our Ontario members.

Turning our attention westward, we are looking for the assistance of our Saskatchewan members to help convince the saskatchewan government to clarify just how long residents of the province can travel without jeopardizing their health coverage. If you are a Saskatchewan resident, you are permitted to be out of the province for up to six months of any year, while still maintaining your health coverage. In addition to that, individuals who are "ordinarily" physically present in Saskatchewan may leave the province on vacation for up to 12 consecutive months and still maintain coverage, as long as they can prove to the government that they intend to return to the province following their absence. In addition, absences that do not qualify as "long-term" or "extended" will not count toward the six-month ordinary limit on time outside of the province. Are you confused yet? I sure am.

The problem is that Saskatchewan travellers are having a heck of a time figuring out just what is meant by "ordinarily," "long-term" and "extended." Our point is simply that these folks need to be able to understand the rules and know whether their health coverage could potentially be at risk. If, for example, "long-term" and "extended" absences were defined as those of MORE than one consecutive month, then Saskatchewan's policy would be among the most travel-friendly in Canada. Well that's our take on the situation and here's how you can help.

If you live in Saskatchewan, your copy of this magazine will contain a postcard addressed to the Saskatchewan Minister of Health, The Hon. Don McMorris. If you agree with our position, please fill in your name and address, sign it and drop it in the mail. The postage has already been paid so that's all there is to it. I, along with our director for central Canada, Saskatchewan resident John Foster met with Minister McMorris last fall. He is a very personable guy and was entirely fair and reasonable. Personally, I think that the reason nothing has been done about this in the past is that very few people are aware of the situation and even fewer have voiced their concern to the government. Only with your help and participation will we be able to solve this problem.

The annual round of Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations is right around the corner. Our Ontario friends can take in shows in Kingston, Nepean, St. Catharines and Orillia. We will also be heading west with shows in Regina, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Alberta and both Vernon and Abbotsford, British Columbia. These events are great for catching up with old friends and making some new ones. You'll enjoy first-rate entertainment and learn more about what the CSA and our friends at Medipac are doing for you. As always, the shows are absolutely free, so don't forget to bring your friends! Everyone is welcome to attend. Please check elsewhere in this issue of CSANews for specific dates, times and locations of the meetings.

Although I mentioned this in the last issue, it's important to remember that this is the first snowbird travel season in which you will need a passport or specific identity document to drive across the border into the United States. These alternative documents consist of identification such as the enhanced driver's licence or enhanced provincial identification cards. Although these are handy to have, they are not yet available in all provinces and territories. Do yourself a favour - if you're going to drive south this winter and you're a Canadian citizen, get yourself the most reliable piece of identification there is, a Canadian passport.

I'm off to Manitoba to meet with The Hon. Kerri Irvin-Ross, the Minister of Healthy Living & Seniors.

My wife Alice and I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations.

Pic1: Bob Slack and Don Gardiner meeting with Hon. Tim Hudak, MPP and Leader of the Official Opposition.

Pic2: Don Gardiner with Randy Hillier, MPP Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington.

Pic3: Don Gardiner meeting with Mayor David Miller, city of Toronto.
Mayor Miller is involved with several Great Lakes mayors in a number of mutual initiatives concerning the environment as well as border-crossing mobility (especially in light of the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) and sustaining economic growth and tourism on both sides of the shared border.