Government Relations Report Issue 42

Spring 2002 CSANews Issue 42  |  Posted date : Apr 05, 2007.Back to list

It's good to be back ­ as much as we all enjoy escaping the cold, there is no place like home. I hope you all had a safe and healthy winter.

As you are aware, we now have a new board of directors for the 2002-2004 term of office. With an influx of new representatives, our committees take on a different look as well. I am honoured to have been acclaimed first vice-president and, again, appointed to chair the Government Relations Committee (GRC).

You are already well acquainted with Malcolm Joyce, our new secretary and returning Manitoba director. Malcolm's political know-how will be put to the "test" again for another term and I look forward to his continued insight. Past-president Bob Jackson, our "voice of reason," will be joining us and his expertise will, as always, be very much appreciated. President Ellen White will be an integral part of the Government Relations Committee and of all CSA board committees.

New to the team is Michael Wedekind, the CSA's Alberta representative on the board of directors. Michael is a former civil litigation lawyer and a member of the Law Society of Alberta (non-practising). We welcome Mike's enthusiasm and knowledge.

An early-April news story appearing in the St. Petersburg Times has spread throughout the sun belt, causing serious consternation among snowbirds. The report stated that INS officials have "proposed a 30-day limit to the time millions of tourists and business people may stay in the country." The phones at our office in Toronto went wild.

Admittance into the United States is at the discretion of border officials ­ and that will not change. According to our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Jan Lawson, Canadian Consul in Miami and Wallace Weylie, the CSA's U.S.-based legal counsel, CANADIANS DO NOT REQUIRE A (PAPER) VISA TO TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES FOR PLEASURE. That being said, however, the border inspector must have some standard to apply in granting permission for a Canadian to enter the States. The standard that has been applied to date is the same as applied to the B visitor visa. Our Department of Foreign Affairs seems confident that Canadians were not meant to be included in this proposal but, nonetheless, the CSA went swiftly into action ­ just to be sure. Governor Jeb Bush's letter to the INS (opposite) is an example of one of our early results.

As you know, we are in the process of preparing a national evaluation. Our legal team is now reviewing provincial legislation as well as policy with respect to out-of-province coverage for health-related services, and have noted a number of "grey" areas that require further clarification. In the meantime, and until our research into these areas is complete, it is their recommendation that all travellers who have spent most of the winter outside of Canada check with their provincial health-care service providers prior to travelling out of province during the summer months, in order to avoid any risk of a lapse in health-care benefits.

Ontario's PC delegates have elected a new provincial leader, and we look forward to working closely with Ernie Eves in the coming months. Premier Harris' PC party has been very good to Ontario's snowbirds, and we certainly hope to continue this tradition now that Premier Eves has moved into Queen's Park.

In the span of one week, we've seen two new leaders emerge ­ the federal Alliance party has elected Stephen Harper and Ontario has brought back a familiar face in Ernie Eves as premier. The CSA has already sent letters of congratulations to both gentlemen, wishing them well in their new posts.

We've been monitoring provincial throne speeches and budgets as they have been delivered. Not surprisingly, in the wake of numerous commissions reporting back over recent months, the majority of them have focused on health care. This is an issue that in which we are obviously quite interested, and we will continue to monitor and act accordingly.

I would like to offer my personal thanks to all of you who attended the Winter Information Meeting at Boynton Beach. It was a pleasure speaking with you, and I enjoyed hearing your questions and opinions. If any of you have contacts in government and wouldn't mind speaking to them on our behalf, please let us know. Quite often, it's the behind-the-scenes people who truly effect change, and our members are the best sources of information for us. Even a name and phone number is always appreciated.

The CSA board is back home and we're in full gear ­ watch out for great things to happen.