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Government Relations


Jim Sherb

First Vice-President


ewly installed Federal Health Minister Jane Phil-

pott has indicated that one of her highest priorities

will be the negotiation of a new Health Accord

between the provinces, territories and federal government.

The stated goal is to set national standards and provide

provincial and territorial partners with stable, predictable,

long-term funding.

The 2004 Health Accord expired in 2014 and was not

renegotiated by the previous federal government. Early

indications are that the discussions will initially focus on

expanding access to affordable home care and affordable

prescription medication. We know that our population is

aging and, statistically, we are living longer so affordable

expansion in these areas is more important than ever.

As an association, we are always concerned when the conver-

sation concerns national health-care standards. One of the

five pillars of the Canada Health Act is portability. Sub-para-

graph 11(1)(b)(ii) of the act clearly establishes that portability

includes emergency health services provided to Canadian

residents while outside of the country. The act states that

when emergency health services “are provided out of Canada,

payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have

been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the

province.” The intent and purpose of sub-paragraph 11(1)

(b)(ii) are clear. Unfortunately, the federal government has

shown an unwillingness to enforce the standard which it has

set in the act. Travellers seeking to protect their entitlements

under the act, through litigation, have been told by the courts

that it is up to the federal government to decide whether the

act has been contravened and whether to impose a penalty on

the provinces.The failure of previous federal governments to

act in this regard is a disappointment to travelling Canadians

and undermines the credibility of their own legislation.

Rest assured, we will be reminding our federal members of

parliament of our concerns during the negotiation of the

new Federal Health Accord.

In October 2014, we asked our Saskatchewan members to

engage in an e-mail and letter-writing campaign requesting

that the government of Saskatchewan amend its temporary

absence policy in order to increase the amount of time which

residents may spend outside of the province and still remain

eligible for their provincial health coverage, from sixmonths

to seven months.

At the same time, the CSA remained active in advocating

for this policy change in meetings with the premier and the

minister of health, as well as members of the Human Services

Policy Caucus Committee.

We are pleased to announce that the Saskatchewan gov-

ernment has, effective January 1, 2016, formally increased

the length of time for which residents may be absent from

Saskatchewan, from six to sevenmonths (over any 12-month

period), while still retaining continuous provincial health

coverage. Saskatchewan is now the eighth province to permit

out-of-province absences more than six months in length.

Saskatchewan snowbirds will now be able to visit friends and

familymembers outside of the province, after returning from

their winter vacation, without fear of losing their provincial

health coverage. This is great news for Saskatchewan snow-

birds and another big win for the members of the Canadian

Snowbird Association.

On behalf of the association, I would like to thank Premier

BradWall and the Honourable Dustin Duncan, minister of

health, for taking the concerns of our Saskatchewanmembers

seriously and making this happen. It’s no wonder that they

are currently the most popular provincial government in


Please do keep inmind that current U.S. policy unfortunately

still limits the amount of time that Canadian citizens can

legally spend in the United States to six months less a day,

in any 12-month period.

The long-delayed implementation of the joint Canada/U.S.

declaration titled

Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for

Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness

is, guess

what? Still delayed.

Part of the declaration includes a bi-national border initia-

tive in which entry and exit data will be shared regarding

individuals travelling between Canada and the United States.

While the initial stages have already been implemented, the

information shared has been limited to permanent residents

and third-country nationals.

In March, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama

agreed to implement the arrangement which had been pre-

viously negotiated with the government of Prime Minister

Stephen Harper. The originally scheduled implementation

date of this phase of the initiative had been June 30, 2014.

Legislation must now be drafted and put to a vote in Parlia-

ment before the sharing of entry and exit data for Canadian

citizens becomes a reality. As more information becomes

available, we will certainly keep you updated.