Government Relations Report Issue 46

Spring 2003 CSANews Issue 46  |  Posted date : Apr 15, 2007.Back to list

In early March, we received some extremely welcome news ­ the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) rescinded the proposed changes to the B-2 Visitors' Visa regulation. This was the regulation which could have limited holders of this visa (and by extension, possibly Canadians) to just 30 days' stay in the U.S. As you are aware, as a direct result of President Ellen White's appearance before the House Small Business Committee on Capitol Hill, the CSA received a letter from the former head of the INS assuring us that Canadians (eligible to enter the U.S.) would not be hindered in their attempts to stay for six months. At that same meeting, we were credited by a senior member of Florida Governor Jeb Bush's staff with bringing the issue to the forefront.

We were extremely honoured that Governor Bush included the CSA in his press release announcing the elimination of the proposed regulation. Canadian travellers are extremely fortunate to have such a good friend and ally in the governor's office.

When rumours of an April 14 Quebec election were floating, the CSA contacted the offices of Bernard Landry, Jean Charest and Mario Dumont, explaining why this date would not be practical for Quebec snowbirds. While the government has made great strides to get election information to absentee voters, the fact remains that since ballots are due back before the close of polls, absentee voters would not be party to a complete electoral campaign.
As May 5 was also being considered, we requested this date as the majority of snowbirds are back in Canada by the end of April.

When the election was ultimately set for April 14, the CSA issued a press release protesting the date. We received numerous media calls based on this release. One extremely telling comment which we received was that the election was called with the intent that snowbirds would be absent, as they tend to vote Liberal. We have sent letters to each party leader asking about their platforms regarding issues pertaining to snowbirds ­ we will issue another press release once the responses have been received.

'Tis the season for politicking and with numerous elections looming on the horizon, you should ensure that you are as informed as possible about your candidates. If there is to be an election in your riding, please ask your local candidates about their party's platforms related to the following issues ­ and let us know their responses.

Each province has a residency requirement in order for its citizens to maintain provincial health care. The CSA's ideal is that taxpayers be allowed between six and eight months of travel and unlimited short-term trips anywhere in the world. Are any of the candidates in your riding willing to support the easing of residency requirements?

The Portability Principle is one of the five founding pillars of the Canada Health Act (CHA). Section 11(I)(b)(ii) stipulates that the provinces should base payments for out-of-country emergency medical care on what is paid in-province.

Few provinces are adhering to this part of the CHA. Are the candidates in your riding willing to work towards increasing their province's payments? Do their views coincide with yours?

With tightened restrictions, it's becoming extremely difficult to have medication sent across the border. Does your province allow you to access a supply of medication, equal to the time that you're allowed out of province? If not, do any of the candidates support this kind of legislative change?
Every vote counts ­ make your candidates aware that you're monitoring the election and supporting those who will support you, in return.

This past winter Peter Sloggett, our B.C. director, received a letter asking for proof of his provincial residency ­ for the last SEVEN YEARS. In the past (and not that long ago), the Canadian Snowbird Association received policy letters stating that residents of British Columbia would maintain their health-care privileges as long as they remained in Canada for six months.

Based on Peter's experience, it is now apparent that B.C. is going strictly by the book ­ six months' residency IN PROVINCE.

As a word of caution to all of our members ­ if you have any questions at all about the length of time you're allowed out of your province, or if you wish to be absent longer than the time allowed, check with your Ministry of Health. Be sure to make note of the date and name of the person who has authorized any extension.