WHEN SNOWBIRDS FLY SOUTH
As the temperature drops outside, many Canadians will soon be migrating south (or have already) - to a warmer climate for the winter. Unfortunately, the current drawbacks when travelling to destinations that prefer American dollars are the exchange rate and the cost of health insurance.
After discussing these issues, along with some other related travel matters with clients, we determined that travelers should look at the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA), a national, not-for- profit organization dedicated to defending and improving the rights and privileges of travelling Canadians.
Founded in 1992, the CSA was formed when 1,092 Canadians staged a rally opposing the reduction of payments by several Canadian provinces for out-of-country emergency medical care. Today, the Canadian Snowbird Association has approximately 80,000 members across Canada. Since its founding, the CSA has actively engaged on behalf of its membership with all levels of government in both Canada and the United States, on an array of health-related and other issues.
The CSA has worked with governments across Canada on issues of importance to travelling Canadians such as: • Convincing the Government to shelve the idea of reducing out of country Provincial health coverage from six months to 90 days • Working with the Ontario Government in order to restore the out-of country emergency care inpatient rate of $400 per day and to receive up to a 200-day supply of prescription medication for travel purposes. • Introducing mail-in ballots in Ontario for eligible electors who are outside of the province during a provincial election. • Recommending that the Canadian Government introduce a Canadian passport with a 10-year validity period, which was implemented in 2013 based on this recommendation. • Working in partnership with the Government of British Columbia to increase the amount of time that permanent residents can be out-of country from six to seven months, while still maintaining provincial health coverage.
• When the U.S Government proposed a rule which sought to reduce the amount of time that Canadian tourists could be present in the United States from six months to 30 days, the CSA appeared before the U.S. House Small Business Committee to have this rescinded. • The CSA engaged with the Florida State Government on the issue of property tax. The state of Florida employs a two-tier tax system which treats residents and non-residents differently. In 2006, the Canadian Snowbird Association appeared before the Florida Property Tax Reform Committee to present the association’s position on proposed property tax reform. • The state of Florida passed legislation which required foreign drivers to obtain an International Driving Permit in order to operate a motor vehicle. The CSA worked with government representatives at the state level, and the Florida Legislature soon repealed the requirement when it reconvened.
In addition to the advocacy work of the association, the CSA also provides a number of value-added programs and services which cater to the snowbird lifestyle such as:
• Snowbird Currency Exchange Program • CSA Auto Club • Medipac Travel Medical Insurance • CSA Auto and Home Insurance • CSA Medipac Personal Health Record
CSA membership can vary from a one year period to a lifetime membership, for a nominal fee. If you are an occasional or frequent traveler, this association may have some or most of the answers you are looking for. For more information, visit their website at www.snowbirds.org .