Government Relations Report Issue 50

Spring 2004 CSANews Issue 50  |  Posted date : May 05, 2007.Back to list

The CSA's government relations committee met in conjunction with the recent Board of Directors' meeting in Orlando, Florida. A number of items were discussed.

U.S.-VISIT Program
As many members are aware, the U.S. continues to heighten border security in the aftermath of 9-11, the recent events in Iraq, and the many new terrorism situations around the world.

Travellers to the United States who presently require an actual entry visa affixed into their passports (not Canadian citizens) are now photographed and electronically fingerprinted as part of clearing U.S. immigration.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently announced that the U.S.-VISIT program, when fully implemented, will be extended to land-border crossings as well as airports and seaports.

Within the past month, a further news release advises that ­ as of this coming September ­ passport holders under the "visa waiver program" (those who require a passport to enter the U.S. but no additional special visa as well) will be included in the photographing and electronic fingerprinting requirements of U.S.-VISIT.

This new decision will apply to many snowbirds who, although having lived in Canada as permanent residents (landed immigrants) for many years, are still not full Canadian citizens and do not travel with a Canadian passport.

Accordingly, if you are a Canadian permanent resident who never got around to applying for full Canadian citizenship, you may want to consider starting the application process over the summer months.

The CSA was instrumental in lobbying the U.S. Congress to allow Canadian citizens to continue travelling to the U.S. for 182 days each year. This benefit does not extend to permanent residents who must still travel with the non-Canadian passport from their country of origin.

National Report Card and Special Report
Two years ago, the Association produced both a National Report Card as well as our Special Report dealing with issues affecting travelling Canadians. The CSA Board of Directors has passed a motion approving in principle the idea of committing to a regularly scheduled updating of both project documents on an alternating year basis.

Further work will be done on this initiative over the summer months.

Concept of a Special U.S. "Retiree" Visa
An item of discussion at the committee's recent meeting was the re-examination of a possible "retiree" visa which, if implemented, would allow a person to stay in the U.S. beyond the present limit (e.g. 182 days per year for a Canadian citizen). Elsewhere in this issue of CSANews, you will find further information about this proposal.

It is important to stress that this is currently only a concept or idea. No formal proposal or presentation has yet been made to government.

Florida Property Taxation
In response to many members' inquiries about the current state of Florida's property tax system and the different treatment of full-time versus seasonal residents, the Association formally wrote to Governor Jeb Bush expressing concern about the situation. Copies of our letter to the governor, and his recent reply, are shown on page 14 and on the CSA website.

Canada Health Act
As we are all aware, the political landscape of Canada has seen many changes, both federally and provincially, over the past year. The CSA will, over the next few months, be writing to each premier and health minister voicing our concern as to how the portability section of the Canada Health Act is (or is not) being followed. Issues concerning the present limits on obtaining sufficient prescription medication to cover the full period of travel will also be raised.

In anticipation of a federal election in the near future, the Association will also be writing to Prime Minister Paul Martin and his health minister, and their equivalent representatives of the other political parties to obtain their written position on CSA issues. These results will be provided to all CSA members to assist them in their choice of CSA-friendly candidates prior to the election itself.