President’s Message Issue 57

Winter 2005 CSANews Issue 57  |  Posted date : May 25, 2007.Back to list

Well, here we are again, another snowbird travel season. I hope that all members had a safe and enjoyable trip to their winter destination. We had a great summer in Ontario for those of us who like it hot. It was great for boating, swimming or playing golf, and now we look forward to a winter of healthy living in a warm climate – no snow to shovel, no ice to slip on and no running to the doctor's office with the sniffles. As I have said repeatedly, we are able to do many things to keep ourselves healthy while in the warmer climate; this helps to keep us from being a drain on the Canadian health-care system.

What has been happening as far as the CSA is concerned?

This past year has been truly unbelievable in terms of the number of hurricanes that have had an impact upon the southern U.S. Fortunately, the majority of them caused only minor damage. Similar to last year, the CSA office, as well as myself, responded to numerous print, radio and television media inquiries as the result of Hurricane Rita and then Hurricane Wilma. I am pleased to report, based on inquiries received at the CSA office, that the vast majority of snowbirds were not affected by these storms.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many members who renewed their CSA membership on time this past fall. A few had to be reminded, but they did come through. I am also pleased to be able to report that more than 1,000 new members signed up in conjunction with our fall mail-out campaign, as well as our radio promotion. I know that a lot of members have been telling their friends about us and getting them to join. If you know someone who travels out of their province, tell them about the CSA and get them to become members. Numbers do matter when we are talking to governments. Are you able to get five new members to join? If so, you will receive a CSA KEY MEMBER pin.

Last year, 2004, saw our Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations visit Western Canada. This past fall, our lifestyle shows were held in Ontario and Eastern Canada. The shows were a great success with such entertainers as Gordie Tapp, Crystal Gage, Tommy Leadbeater and John Bressler. I had an opportunity to talk to the audience about the work of the CSA, while Dr. Robert (Bob) McMillan gave an informative presentation on looking after your health while travelling and selecting the right travel insurance. It was an added pleasure being able to talk individually to many members at the CSA booth. While in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I had the pleasure of meeting with Mayor Brad Woodside who also attended our meeting and welcomed everyone to his beautiful city. On behalf of our members, I would like to thank Chris Bradbury and Paula Thomson of Medipac International who organized these meetings and who worked so hard to ensure their success.

As I mentioned in my last message, we have been very busy meeting with elected officials across Canada. As part of our lifestyle presentation tour of Atlantic Canada, I was able to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Prince Edward Island Premier Pat Binns and Health Minister Chester Gillan. This was a positive meeting, as his government recently increased the amount that the province reimburses for emergency in-patient services (required by travellers outside of the country) from $576.00 to $919.00 per day and from $110.00 to $158.00 per day for out-patient services. I was able to compliment both gentlemen on their commitment to the Canada Health Act and to the services which they provide for their travelling residents. I did, however, point out to them that although they allow their residents to be absent from the province for up to 182 days and still retain their health-care privileges, they only provide for a 90-day supply of maintenance prescription drugs. The CSA recommends that residents be permitted to purchase enough prescription drugs to last them for the equivalent amount of time for which they are allowed to be out of the province. I also pointed out that PEI residents must be physically present in the province for the remaining six months (plus one day), in order to be eligible for continued health-care benefits. This, in fact, means that once they have been absent from the province for 182 days, they are not permitted to travel anywhere (even within Canada) without jeopardizing their provincial health-care benefits. I am sure that both Premier Binns and Health Minister Gillan will be looking at these concerns to see what they can do to improve them.

Your government relations committee, led by First Vice-President Lew Kehoe, has been working hard to gather information from all provincial and territorial governments with respect to the new Canadian Travellers' Report Card. This new report will be ready by the time we meet at the Florida (Lakeland) Extravaganza. The results will be graded, similar to our original 2002 report, in school grades A, B, C, D and F, along with notes showing where improvements have been made by the various governments. The final printed report will be sent to the prime minister and federal minister of health, along with every premier and provincial minister of health. A media awareness campaign is also being planned to coincide with the report's release.

The CSA board of directors has proposed national minimum standards for Canadian travellers with respect to the following:

  • Amount of time for which residents are allowed to be absent from their home province/territory and still retain their health-care privileges,
  • Amount of prescription drugs which travellers are allowed to take when leaving the country, and
  • Amount paid (reimbursed) for emergency health-care services while out of the country.

These are the things which we discuss when meeting with government officials.

You may have heard or read about "shoot 'em up" in Florida. The Brady Campaign organization has been passing out leaflets at airports, as well as running advertising campaigns in Canada and European countries advising travellers that a new law has been passed in Florida which gives people the right to shoot at each other in the streets. THIS IS NOT CORRECT. Florida has always followed the ancient "castle doctrine," which gives you the right to defend your domain. Under the old law, you were supposed to retreat if confronted either in your home or elsewhere. The new law recently passed gives you the right to stand your ground and defend either yourself or another person using such force as may appear reasonably necessary to save your life or the life of another from great bodily harm. The original concept of protecting your home (your castle) has also been extended to include your vehicle or anywhere else you may lawfully be. The new law creates a presumption that a person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person's dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle, is doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence. Interestingly enough, this type of law is already in force in 26 other U.S. states and has not caused any problems. I have been in touch with Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He pointed out that Florida's crime rate is currently the lowest in 34 years. I was also recently joined on the AM 740 radio station in Ontario by JoAnn Carrin, director of communications for the Office of the attorney general of Florida. JoAnn stated that this is a political move by the Brady Campaign and assured us that snowbirds are not only safe in Florida, but are very welcome!

On behalf of my wife, Joan and myself, I wish everyone a safe holiday season.

Pic 2: CSA President Gerry Brissenden with Brad Woodside, Mayor of Fredericton.

Pic 3: Gerry's visit to the PEI Premier's office.
(L to R) Health Minister Hon. Chester Gillan, Gerry, PEI Premier Hon. Pat Binns, Executive Assistant & Senior Policy Advisor Patrick Dorsey

Pic 4: The Canadian Snowbird Association Staff , Executive and Directors send their best wishes to all snowbirds and pledge their commitment to an enjoyable, warm and safe winter for all.
Directors back row (L to R): Wallace Weylie (CSA Legal Counsel), Harley Sundbo (Director), Lewis Kehoe (First Vice President), J. Ross Quigley (CEO, Medipac International Inc.), Ellen White (Past President), Gerry Brissenden (President), Nancy Hopcraft (Secretary), Roland Bélanger (Director), Jim Sherb (Director), Don Gardiner (Treasurer), Lawrence Barker (Executive Director), Christopher Bradbury (Vice President, Medipac International Communications). Spouses from row (L to R): Colette Kehoe, Patricia Quigley, Bruce White, Joan Brissenden, Gordon Hopcraft, Carmelle Bélanger, Alayne Sherb, Alice Gardiner. Absent: Bernice Sundbo