Snowbirds Win Legal Challenge to Reinstate Out-of-Country Insurance Coverage

Toronto, ON (Sept. 24, 2020) – The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) applauds the September 23 unanimous decision of the Ontario Divisional Court in Canadian Snowbirds Association Inc. v. Attorney General of Ontario to strike down part of Ontario Regulation 259 which terminated OHIP’s Out-of-Country Travellers Program (OOCTP). In that decision, the Court found that, under the Ontario Health Insurance Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council does not have the legal authority to enact regulations which would revoke the OOCTP.

On January 1, 2020, in an unprecedented move, the Ontario Government proceeded with their plans to eliminate the Out-of-Country Travellers Program, which provided reimbursement for Ontario residents who faced medical emergencies while travelling outside of the country. This policy change made Ontario the only jurisdiction in Canada to cut all emergency medical coverage for residents travelling abroad.

The Court’s ruling reinstates this important coverage for travelling Ontarians, restoring reimbursement rates to $200 and $400 per day for emergency inpatient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services. While the CSA continues to advise travellers to obtain adequate travel medical insurance prior to all trips abroad, re-establishing coverage will lower insurance premiums, making travel more affordable, particularly for seniors in the province.

“The Canadian Snowbird Association is pleased with the Court’s decision,” said Karen Huestis, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association. “The ruling affirms the right of Ontario residents to out-of-country emergency insurance coverage, as required by the Canada Health Act (CHA).”

Under the Ontario Health Insurance Act, the legislation which governs the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, corresponding regulations cannot include any provision which violates any of the five pillars of the Canada Health Act. One of the five pillars of the CHA is portability, which requires provincial and territorial health insurance plans to provide coverage for insured health services for residents who are temporarily absent from their home province or territory or from Canada. If insured persons are temporarily absent in another province or territory, the portability criterion requires that insured services be paid at the host province’s rate. If insured persons are temporarily out of the country, insured services are to be paid at the home province’s rate.

The CSA remains hopeful that the Ontario Government will respect the Court’s decision and not seek an appeal, as it did most recently in the court case regarding the government’s mandatory gas-pump decals.

The Canadian Snowbird Association represents more than 50,000 Ontario residents and maintains a total membership of more than 115,000 travellers across Canada.

About the Canadian Snowbird Association

The Canadian Snowbird Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing more than 114,000 Canadian travellers 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. For more information, please visit

Source: Canadian Snowbird Association

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