Canadian Snowbird Association report card reveals most provinces breaching the Canada Health Act

TORONTO, March 17 2010 – Only Prince Edward Island and the Canadian territories and are living up to the requirement of the Canada Health Act to provide portable, universal health care for the more than 53 million trips Canadians take abroad each year, according to the 3rd edition of the Canadian Travellers’ Report Card, released today by the Canadian Snowbird Association.

“Politicians of all stripes need to be reminded that the portability principle of the Canada Health Act, with a few notable exceptions, is not being met,” said Don Gardiner, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association. “This busy snowbird travel season should remind all Canadians that the principles of universality and portability we expect from our health-care system must now be supported by government action.”

Overall grades awarded as an average across all categories are as follows:

– Yukon: A
– Nunavut: A-
– Northwest Territories: B
– Manitoba: B
– PEI: B
– Quebec: B
– Saskatchewan B
– Nova Scotia B-
– Government of Canada B-
– New Brunswick C+
– Newfoundland and Labrador: C
– Alberta: C
– British Columbia: C
– Ontario C-

Prince Edward Island and the thinly populated territories are at the top of the list of jurisdictions that provide health coverage to residents who require emergency health services while travelling at the same rate as if the emergency had occurred while at home – as required by the Canada Health Act. More populous provinces such as B.C., Alberta and Quebec provide only token coverage for their residents who have emergencies while travelling. Likewise, many governments threaten to cut off medicare for tax-paying Canadians if they are out of the province for more than six months, denying them access to the universal health care promised to all Canadians.

“Where a Canadian happens to be when a health emergency occurs should not change our governments’ responsibility to provide needed service,” said CSA president Don Gardiner. “Leaving any Canadian without basic health protection is counter to the core Canadian belief in access to publicly funded health care for all citizens. Our governments must never treat the fact that a Canadian suffered an emergency while out of the country as an opportunity to avoid obligations.”

In addition to reviewing access to emergency care while travelling, the report evaluates governments on how frequently Canadians may travel and still receive health coverage, how government prescription drug programs are applied to travellers, accessibility of distance voting during elections, and the availability of clear government information on these services and policies.

The Canadian Snowbird Association is a 70,000 member, non-profit, non-partisan organization representing Canadian travellers from across the country. The CSA works in partnership with government and business to educate and advocate on behalf of all travelling Canadians, helping to ensure access to safe, healthy travel with no restrictions on freedom of movement.

About CSA

The Canadian Snowbird Association is a national not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to actively defending and improving the rights and privileges of travelling Canadians.