Government Relations Report Issue 44

Fall 2002 CSANews Issue 44  |  Posted date : Apr 09, 2007.Back to list

The Canadian Travellers' Report Card was a two-year undertaking that, while now drawing to a close in one way, will open doors in another. It has been an exceptionally interesting process for all of us and I am personally very pleased with the outcome.

We made the decision to have the grading done by an outside firm to ensure impartiality. Some of the marks that were given came as a surprise, but by providing Navigator with our 'benchmarks,' they became the basis for their evaluation of our various governments. The following explains the methodology used for the grading.

Research on government policy and practice is drawn from various sources. Through over 10 years of advocacy on behalf of over 100,000 members, the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) has developed an expertise on the legislation, policies and practices of each of Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments.

For the purpose of its national evaluation, the CSA retained the law firm of Blake, Cassels and Graydon, LLP to obtain and review legislation and policy statements of each government within the designated areas of evaluation.

As part of this research and during the subsequent grading, frequent communication, through letters and telephone calls, was made with each government to request further information and to clarify policy. Additional information was obtained from government Web sites. Governments are reluctant to release information regarding daily rates paid for in-province health services. The CSA has been able to obtain some applicable rates for each jurisdiction through various contacts and it has used this as a reference point for evaluation within the category Access to emergency health coverage when travelling.

While the adopted system of letter grades allows the opportunity for each jurisdiction to receive the highest score, the grading is comparative. The CSA's objective is for each province to adopt best practices that adequately protect the interests of Canadian travellers. Provinces and territories are evaluated against the CSA standards, as articulated in the recommendations, and against each other.

An A grade within an individual category is given to a jurisdiction who is meeting the standards of services expected by the CSA and its members; any jurisdiction who met all the recommendations received an A. A's have not been handed out in all categories, but only where a jurisdiction met or exceeded all expectations within that category and as such is demonstrating policies and practices to be commended to other jurisdictions. B grades are awarded for policies and services that are respectable and require relatively minor changes to achieve the CSA's recommended standard. C grades are awarded for policies and services that show sensitivity to the needs of travellers, but would benefit from significant changes. D grades are awarded to policies that are well below the CSA's standard and the practices of other jurisdictions, demonstrating room for numerous improvements. An F grade is given to a jurisdiction that is falling well below the CSA's standard and behind its other provincial counterparts on numerous or all indicators.

The overall grade for each jurisdiction represents an average of the grades received in each of the other five categories. Each of the five categories was equally weighted for the purpose of this average.

Following the completion of research and initial grading, the CSA communicated its findings to each of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The governments were asked to verify that the information in the report is accurate and given the opportunity to respond to the findings through changes in policy, commitments for future changes or with further explanations regarding current practice. The CSA received responses from Chief Electoral Officers and health ministries of many jurisdictions, clarifying information and explaining policies. The CSA appreciated this information and made amendments to the final report card where appropriate.

The CSA intends for these discussions to be ongoing and is optimistic that the end result will be improved information and services for Canadian travellers.

In the next edition of CSA News, you'll find a tear-out postcard as well as contact information for your Ministers of Health, Premiers and the Prime Minister. We stand a better chance of effecting change if our membership backs us with a grassroots mail-in campaign. When political offices are flooded with correspondence ­ all on the same subject matter ­ the issue is put on agendas for discussion.

We look forward to the next phase of our battle strategy!

The INS issue is being monitored and we have been told that a decision as to the final wording is forthcoming, probably sometime in November, 2002.

We also have been advised that members who are Landed Immigrants from Commonwealth countries will now need to obtain visas from the American Consulate in order to stay in the USA for a time period beyond three months.

The Border Assist Program has been implemented and although it is there for the benefit of members, we are really hoping that our members are never placed in a position of having to use its services.

Have a safe trip south!