CSANews 83 (page 13)


Official News Magazine of the Canadian Snowbird Association | SUMMER 2012 | ISSUE 83

MALTA Magnificent A cornucopia of European culture captured in one archipelago.

Don’t Break your Heart Introspective Investing

The Musical Ride A Canadian Tradition

WELCOME BACK SNOWBIRDS! It’s time to get the home & car insurance that’s right for your lifestyle from the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA). Designed specially for snowbirds like yourself, the CSA Auto/Home Insurance Plan offers you many great benefits and group discounts. Your coverage includes: „ Preferential rates with multiple discounts „ Earn 1 AIR MILES® reward mile for every $20 you spend in premium (including taxes) „ No surcharge for taking your vehicle to the U.S. „ Hassle Free Claims Service Call 1-800-267-8000 Nationwide or 416-441-7029 in Toronto to speak to the insurance experts at Group Services today for your free, no-obligation quote.

© 2011. RSA is a registered trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.“RSA”and the RSA logo are trademarks used under license from RSA Insurance Group plc. ®™Trademarks of AIR MILES InternationalTrading B.V. Used under license by LoyaltyOne, Inc. and Roins Financial Services Limited. All other marks are owned by their respective trademark owners. *All AIR MILES offers are subject to theTerms and Conditions of RSA, and may be changed or withdrawn without notice.Terms and Conditions can be found at www.rsagroup.ca.

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Editor’s message

SUMMER 2012 | ISSUE 83

Bob Slack Ron Steeves John Foster Nancy Hopcraft Karen Huestis Gerry Brissenden James Leroux Rick Thorpe Michael MacKenzie Wallace Weylie J. Ross Quigley Bob Slack Chris Bradbury Peter Prusa Neville B. Levin Fran Castricone Paula McGovern Kim Saunders Doug Miller

Editor CSA Editor Vice President  Art Director


Director of Sales Account Manager

ur congratulations to the Canadian Snowbird Association, again!

Director of Operations Marketing Coordinator Staff Photographer

One of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offices decided that if any part of a travel insurance policy contained benefits that were not of a medical nature, then a tax deduction would be denied for the entire policy premium. We had numerous phone calls and e-mails from CSA members, as well as from non-members, whose tax returns were being reassessed for substantial amounts of money. Needless to say, we immediately dug up the applicable section of the Income Tax Act and, to our surprise, that is exactly what it said. The CRA was correct! But it was very unfair, especially to Medipac clients, whose premiums were almost entirely health- related. We do understand baggage insurance, trip cancellation insurance and other non-health-related benefits not being tax deductible, of course. To make a very long story short, Mike MacKenzie, CSA’s executive director, hopped on a plane to Ottawa and was able to meet with senior members of Finance Minister Flaherty’s staff. He explained the unfairness of this particular clause in the act, especially for snowbirds. The government action was swift and decisive and our problem was resolved. A letter has been sent out to all CRA offices advising them that the portion of a travel insurance policy premium relating to medical benefits will, from now on, be fully deductible. What a pleasure it is to deal with this government! Medipac will issue revised receipts where necessary and the issue is fully resolved. Perhaps those non-CSA members – whom we were able to assist – might consider using a small part of their tax gains to become CSA members. Lifetime memberships would be appropriate. Sincerely,

CSA Board of Directors

President First Vice-President Second Vice-President

Treasurer Secretary Past President

Director Director Executive Director Legal Counsel

Contributing Editors

Michael Coren Jennifer Cox Shari Darling James Dolan

Barb & Ron Kroll Dr. Robert MacMillan Willa McLean Rex Vogel

Ron Bellamy


We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

CSANews © is published four times a year and is Copyright Summer 2012 by Medipac International Communications Inc., 180 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5. (416)441-7000. Subscription Price: $9.95 Canada; $20.00 U.S. and foreign. Single copy: $3.95. Prices include tax. Published by Medipac International Communications Inc. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and are not necessarily those of the CSA, Medipac International Communications Inc. or its affiliates, their Directors, Officers, or other employees or agents. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No: 40063603. ISSN No: 1195-2393

J. Ross Quigley Editor

CSANews | SUMMER 2012


Table of Contents

SUMMER 2012 | ISSUE 83


3 Editor’s Message

Community Watch 7  Private Member’s Bill

Health 26  Snowbirds and Heart Attacks by Dr. Robert MacMillan Learn more about preventing and controlling heart disease.

6 Snowbird Alert

Proposes Safeguards for Ontario Powers of Attorney

8 Bird Talk

by John R. O’Toole, MPP for Durham An endeavour to protect vulnerable individuals from financial abuse.

10 President’s Message

11  Government Relations Report

Finance 32  Investor, know thyself by James Dolan Investor profiles. Which one are you?

Travel 20  Malta: The Mediterranean in One Country by Barb & Ron Kroll Capture the beauty, splendour and culture that surround Malta.

12  Insurance by J. Ross Quigley

14  Canada Clubs by Gerry Brissenden

16  Opinion by Michael Coren

RV Lifestyle 36  RCMP Musical Ride by Rex Vogel A historical overview of a legendary Canadian ceremony.

17 Longevity by Jennifer Cox

18 Snowbird Profile

19 Snowbird Events

30 Health Pulse

38  Book Review by Willa McLean

39  CSA Online

40  Food & Drink by Shari Darling

42  CSA Application

43  Benefits

44  Fun & Games


45 Grins & Giggles

46 Fast Facts

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CSANews | SUMMER 2012


Snowbird alert

Be informed about the rules at border crossings Border services officers are legally entitled to examine your luggage as part of their responsibility to protect Canada’s safety, economy and environment. As a traveller, you are responsible for opening, unpacking and repacking your luggage. By making your goods easily accessible for inspection and having your receipts handy, along with the total of all purchases made, you’ll be helping the Canada Border Services Agency to help you. It’s a good idea to keep all of your receipts for accommodations and purchases, as well as for any repairs done to, or parts bought for, your vehicle. The border services officer may ask to see them as evidence of the length of your stay and the value of the goods or repairs. In addition, border services officers may arrest an individual for an offence under the Criminal Code such as impaired driving, outstanding arrest warrants, stolen property, abductions or kidnappings, and for infractions under the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act . If you are arrested, you may be compelled Speak No Evil – Hear No Evil! The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is installing high-definition cameras and microphones in order to record conversations as travellers pass through certain areas of international airports and land crossings. Apparently, conversations are not being recorded, yet. “It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” said CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey. The CBSA stated that the public will be given ample notice when these systems are up and working. A privacy notice is to be posted on the CBSA website. Source: Torstar Media to attend court in Canada. Source: CBSA - “I Declare”

Tips for safe online shopping Canada is very much online. Almost half of us shop online now, researchers say. There are about 13 million Facebook accounts, 3.5 million Twitter accounts and we send nearly five billion text messages each month, states the Better Business Bureau. And because of this high degree of online activity, we are also susceptible to fraud. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in 2009 for example, there were almost 4,500 victims of online fraud in Canada, reporting $14.5 million in losses. Below are some safe shopping tips from Equifax Canada, the country’s largest credit reporting agency: X X Look at the address. If you’re shopping on a website and you’ve hit the “checkout” button, you should see a change in theWeb address at the top of your browser. If the site on which you’re shopping is equipped with security layers, you should see “http” change to “https” and you might also see a small padlock icon, depending on your browser. X X Be careful about the information which you give out. We’re often asked for our e-mail addresses, postal codes and shopping habits online and, while these can seem like innocent questions, they’re often used to create a profile of you for marketing purposes. If it gets into the wrong hands, all of that information about what you like and how you shop can provide clues that are helpful in stealing your identity. X X Monitor yourself. To keep track of how your personal information is being used, consider signing up for a credit monitoring product. With this product, you will be notified if anyone signs up for an account in your name or with your personal information. Keep a close eye on your bank account and credit card statements to make sure that the purchases which are logged are ones that you’ve made. It’s also a good idea to make the effort to check your own credit reports throughout the year for any illicit or unauthorized activity. This will not affect your credit rating, since you are allowed to check your credit report as often as you like throughout the year. X X Change your passwords. It’s good to switch your log-in passwords every so often. More information is available at www.equifax.ca or toll-free at 1-800-465-7166. Source: News Canada

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Community watch

Private Member’s Bill Proposes Safeguards for Ontario Powers of Attorney

By John R. O’Toole, MPP Durham

John O’Toole, MPP (center) with CSA Past President Gerry Brissenden and Ontario CSA Director Karen Huestis.

Financial abuse of vulnerable people, including seniors and the disabled, can take many forms. The misuse of a power of attorney has devastating consequences for the elderly because it can take away their savings, their property, and even the arrangements which they have made for personal care. I have introduced Private Member’s legislation (Bill 21) that attempts to raise awareness and also provides some new measures to protect vulnerable individuals. My bill has initiatives that govern accountability of those who serve as power of attorney. One of these measures is the option that a continuing power of attorney provide an annual accounting of financial information to the public guardian and trustee. This information could include the assets and liabilities of the person who granted the power of attorney and disclosure of any compensation taken by the “attorney.”

second reading and referred to a standing committee. It was not called at committee because of the election. The challenge is to protect vulnerable persons from financial abuse, while also respecting the privacy of individuals and families. Since the majority of persons serving as power of attorney are trusted friends and family, we want to ensure that they are not facing undue red tape which would get in the way of the wishes of the individuals whom they represent. At the same time, it is important to protect vulnerable individuals from financial abuse. I would appreciate feedback regarding people who have had experience with the power of attorney process. Suggestions that you may have regarding Bill 21 would be welcome.

Bill 21 also proposes a register of persons serving as power of attorney. Someone who grants a power of attorney can choose to forward the name and contact information of their attorney to the registry, where the information could be viewed by other family members. The current Ontario Power of Attorney Kit can easily be downloaded and easily presented as valid. In my bill, there is also a requirement that only one witness to a power of attorney document may be a relative of the person granting the power of attorney. The full name of my legislation is Bill 21, Protection of Vulnerable and Elderly People from Abuse Act (Powers of Attorney), 2011. It has been tabled for first reading, but has not yet proceeded to second reading at which debate and discussion can take place. I introduced similar legislation in a previous session of the Ontario parliament that was debated at

I can be reached by e-mail at john.otooleco@pc.ola.org .

CSANews | SUMMER 2012


Bird talk

not have a password. If you intend to help people, why make it difficult. Non-members may join if they appreciate the service. Please e-mail the form to me so I can mail it in. Bert Ellis St. Catharines, ON Ed: This has always been a “hot button” issue with the CSA board members. There is a fine balance between serving your members and assisting all Canadian travellers. The board decided that everyone should have access to their work and efforts, and I enthusiastically agree. No sign-in is now required. Dear Bird Talk, This message is in reference to the lady trying to acquire U.S. credit cards at major shopping stores. As snowbirds, we have a home in an adult community in Henderson, Nevada and this is what has worked for me when applying for a card with Macy’s, Dillards, Kohls, etc. Once you have their card, you will enjoy better discounts. When applying for a card, the application asks for your social security number. In Canada, we have social insurance numbers, which are different but very similar and can be used in this case. Canadian social insurance numbers have this sequence – 777-777-777. American social security numbers have this sequence 777-77-7777. So quite simply, you enter your SIN # in the American format (ex. If your SIN number is 123-456-789, you would enter it as 123-45-6789) and your application for a card should go through. Also, Macy’s will mail your statement back to either your Canadian or American address. Happy shopping! V. C. Lloydminster, AB Ed: WARNING! Most Americans will not even question this and that is why it is the wrong thing to do. Many years ago, in Las Vegas, I won a fairly nice jackpot on a slot machine and was told that they were going to withhold 30% for taxes. I told them that we have no taxes in Canada and that I wantedmy money. I got my money after they suggested that they would just use my Canadian SIN number andmy U.S. address and see whether anyone catches it in the cheque administration department. I was proudly bragging to my U.S. lawyer friend that I had received 100% of my winnings and he was very upset withme. To quote, he said, “They can put you in jail for impersonating the U.S. person who actually has that SIN number!” And then bar you from the U.S. forever. Lesson Learned. Dear Bird Talk, La Times April 1 page A2, investigative article by Steve Lopez, “The Calculus of ER Charges”had some points of interest to us snowbirds. One that caught my attention was ER billings being pegged at, or close to, insurance deductibles, in order to avoid scrutiny by the HMO.

Dear Bird Talk, I read with interest the articles and letters about the proposed Visit-USA Act in the spring issue of CSANews . I was wonder- ing what the effect will be on Canadian health coverage for Canadians who would be out of Canada for more than 183 days. I believe that, at present, the time out of the country is limited to an absence of 183 days and that being out of the country any longer can result in cancellation of coverage under the Canada Health Plan. I would appreciate your comments. Robert Wilson Calgary, AB Ed: There are several issues to resolve with a U.S. Snowbird Visa and CSA is already discussing the possible solutions with Canadian politicians. The first is allowable absence from your province of residence, which varies from six months inmost provinces, to sevenmonths in Ontario and up to nine months in Newfoundland and Labrador. The simple answer is to just deema Canadian as resident even if they spend longer than six months outside of Canada, provided they have the Snowbird Visa. This would maintain their tax payable in Canada, as it should be, andminor amendments could be made to provincial health-care regulations tomaintain health coverage. Lots of work to do, but this is all a very real possibility. Dear Bird Talk, My husband and I spent four months last winter in Florida, with 62 days of insurance frommy Retired Teachers of Ontario plan, then topping up with Medipac. We arrived back in Canada on April 2 and our Medipac insurance expired on April 3. If we had been in a serious accident before we crossed the border and were both unconscious – in hospital – but unable to phone for more top-up insurance, what would have happened?Would we lose our home and everything we have worked so hard to earn? Ed: WithMedipac, you are totally covered, don’t worry. Medipac provides automatic extensions of coverage, for FREE, if you are hospitalized. We then cover you for an additional 72 hours after discharge to give you time to return home. We also cover you, again at no cost, for an additional 72 hours following your normal expiry date if your plane is late, if your car or RV was in an accident or if it has amechanical breakdown. Some other insurers have fortunately copied our wording, but read your other policy care- fully, to be certain. Dear Bird Talk, In CSANews, you recommend that members go to your website and print the (closer connection) form. When I entered the site, I was asked for my membership number and a password. I do Mary Mueller Brockville, ON

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Bird talk

Featuring the letters & concerns of our members Send Your Letters To Bird Talk, c/o CSANews 180 Lesmill Road Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5 or by e-mail: csawriteus@snowbirds.org

Show Your Support! Help to protect the rights and privileges of Canadian travellers by promoting the organization that works relentlessly to protect and defend your snowbird lifestyle. Order your CSA licence plate today by contacting the Canadian Snowbird Association at 1-800-265-3200. You can also obtain the licence plates at any Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office in the province of Ontario. The continued success of the Canadian Snowbird Association depends on its continued growth. Help the association to flourish by proudly displaying your new CSA licence plate, thus encouraging others to support a worthy cause for travelling Canadians! Only $82.15 For further information about obtaining your CSA plates: Call 1-800-AUTO-PL8 (1-800-288-6758) or visit the Service Ontario website at www.ontario.ca/en/services_for_residents/053272

We previously carried a large-deductible policy – thru CSA – and I’m sure that with prior notification, Medipac would ensure that the billing was proper; however, there is always a possibility that some ER care could occur where that prior notice was not given. The high deductible might then determine the hospital bill. So we’ll choose a low deductible from now on. There are many other points of interest in the article for inter- ested readers, for example, user-pay bills being much higher than HMO for the same procedure.

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-lopez -erfollowup-20120401,1,464555.column Des Ellard Sechelt, BC

Ed: This letter and link are included here because they exemplify the enormous difficulties in dealing with the U.S. medical system and, indeed, any foreignmedical system. Medipac has extensive experience in dealing with these complex relationships and we have a reputation with U.S. hospitals of paying our bills. We will get the very best price available, based on our databases and contracts, and then pass it on to you. One other key point is that Medipac pays 100% of your bill. We collect the deductible directly from you and the hospitals are usually unaware that there even is a deductible. Dear Bird Talk, I had to chuckle at the cartoon on p.53. We cross the border at least twice a year with our dogs, but the border patrol/cus- toms people have never made any reference such as the one in the cartoon. If they had, I would say “YES, one of our dogs IS truly Canadian: he’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!!”Our other dog is a Standard Longhaired Dachshund, but also born (whelped) in Canada. Barb Hunter Long Sault, ON Ed: I couldn’t helpmyself; I had to include this letter. Exactly 60 years ago, my father bought me what he said was one of the first Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, named Bonnie, bred in Yarmouth, N.S. We now have two Australian Shepherds that complicate our snowbird lifestyle, but they are worth it.

CSANews | SUMMER 2012


CSA update

Bob Slack CSA President



you who do not wish to purchase a 10-year passport, you will have the op- tion of obtaining a new five-year ePass- port. That cost of that document will, unfortunately, be increasing from the current price of $87 to $120. This is due primarily to the increased cost of the technology used to produce this new, security-enhanced document. The rationale for the new technology is that it will contribute to protecting our borders and preserving the ease of international travel which Canadians currently enjoy. Possession of an ePass- port is increasingly becoming a require- ment for maintaining visa-free access to foreign countries. With approximately 95 countries now issuing these new passports to their citizens, Canada is one of the last major industrialized na- tions without an ePassport. The transition to the new passports begins before the end of 2012 and, starting in the spring of 2013, all new Canadian passports issued will be elec- tronic passports. Your current passport will still be valid until its current expira- tion date. Snowbird travel season will be here faster than we think. A great way to prepare is by attending one of our an- nual Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations. This September (and October 1), we will be making stops in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We are putting on a total of nine shows this year and you can find dates, times and locations elsewhere in this edition of CSANews . Lois and I wish you a safe and happy summer relaxing with family and friends.

As many of you are aware , the Canadian Snowbird Association has been lobbying the government of Canada to adopt a 10-year passport for many years. Although they have ap- proved our request in principle, there have been many delays with respect to the implementation phase. I am happy to report that there is now light at the end of the tunnel. On May 3, 2012 I, along with CSA Executive Director Michael MacKenzie, testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa regarding Passport Canada’s Fee-for-Service proposal to Parliament. The delay with respect to these new, security-enhanced passports has pri- marily revolved around the question of cost. With the enhanced technology and the doubling of its lifespan, we as- sumed that the price would be more than the current $87, but the question is how much more? As an organization comprised primarily of seniors on fixed or limited incomes, our concern has al- ways been around how much the gov- ernment was going to charge. Although we would ideally like to see some form of seniors’ discount with respect to passports, as a cost-recovery organization, we do recognize the eco- nomic reality that confronts Passport Canada.While Passport Canada is a gov- ernment institution, it operates much like a private-sector enterprise. Passport Canada finances its operations entirely from the fees charged for passports and other related travel documents. There is no parliamentary appropriation; the service is supported by applicants,

rather than by all taxpayers. During our many discussions with Passport Canada, we were surprised to learn that Australia charges $233 for a 10-year ePassport. Our initial concern was that this might be the number at which they were looking. At the other end of the spectrum, the United Kingdom charges $122 for a 10-year ePassport, while the price in the United States is $135. I think it’s safe to say that we were hopeful the proposed fee increases would result in a price closer to the United Kingdom model than to the Australian model. So what have they proposed? The proposed cost is $160 for a 10-year passport. Again, although we would obviously have preferred a lower num- ber, we lobbied hard to limit it to what they have submitted to Parliament. Canadians would actually pay less per year of validity for the new 10-year ePassport than for the current five-year, non-electronic passport. After many discussions, we felt that this was, quite frankly, as good as it was going to get and we support it. While we appreciate the recent ef- forts which Passport Canada has made to increase customer service, getting a passport is not exactly the most pleas- ant thing that people could do with their day and it remains particularly challenging for many seniors from smaller communities. It is this issue of convenience that we find to be the most attractive and com- pelling reason to move to the 10-year passport, at least from the point of view of the Canadian traveller. I can also report that for those of

10 www. snowbirds .org

CSA update

Ron Steeves First Vice-President

Government Relations report

without first obtaining a visa. It facili- tates tourism and business travel for individuals from member nations and offers benefits in terms of economics, diplomacy and national security. In 2009, 16.2 million visitors entered the U.S. under this program, comprising nearly 51 per cent of all foreign visitors. Why am I telling you this? Because Senators Schumer and Lee have agreed to include our proposal for a “Canadian RetireeVisa”in this bill, in addition toour inclusion in the VISIT-USA Act. Again, this bill has a political appeal that ex- tends far beyond the concerns of legis- lators from the traditional snowbird states such as Florida, Arizona, Texas and California. An identical JOLT Act has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Joe Heck (R-NV) and Mike Quigley (D- Il). In essence, it’s like having two raffle tickets instead of one. If either of these bills passes, we’ll have our retiree visa. It’s also beneficial that the JOLT Act was written in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department and that both have already given it their blessing. President Obama has said publicly that if Congress passes the JOLT Act, he will promptly sign the bill, thus making it law. It has also been referred to the ju- diciary and homeland security commit- tees in both houses but, unlike the VISIT USA Act, hearings have already begun. We are working hard, the momentum is building and we will certainly keep you informed of our progress. Have a wonderful and safe summer.

In the last issue of CSANews , we reported on the progress which our proposal for a “Canadian Retiree Visa” has made with its inclusion in the bipar- tisan VISIT-USA Act introduced in both the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives. That bill has been referred to both the judiciary and homeland security committees in both the House and Senate for hearings and further study. As of this writing, that has yet to happen but, as we learned on our latest visit to Washington, D.C., this is not necessarily a bad thing. There are usually two ways to ap- proach having an idea such as ours passed in both the House and Senate. Thefirstway is toapproachan individual member of either chamber with your idea and convince them to introduce a bill that will legislate it. The problem with this approach is that even if you have a great idea, you then need to go out and build support for the bill by finding other members to co-sponsor the legislation. With 435 members of the House and another 100 senators, this can be tricky if your legislation only directly appeals to representatives from a small number of states. The other approach to take – the approach that we have chosen – is to identify bills that have either already been introduced or are imminent, which contain provisions that appeal to a wide spectrum of legislators from a large cross-section of states. You obviously then want your provisions included in that bill. In addition to cre- ating a retiree visa for Canadians, the VISIT-USA Act contains provisions that appeal to foreign real estate investors

and Chinese nationals, and creates expedited visa processing provisions. Some of these measures appeal to legislators from states other than the traditional snowbird-friendly states and, thus, the chance of it passing both houses of Congress substantially increases. The other thing to keep in mind is that there’s no rule which says that our section of the VISIT-USA Act can’t be included in other promising bills wind- ing their ways through Congress. If you can get your provisions into another bill, this only increases your chances of getting them passed and that is exactly what we have done. There has been a considerable de- cline in the U.S. share of global travel over the last decade that is costing the United States a great deal of money. International tourist arrivals around the world are projected to grow by 36 per cent from2010 to 2020, resulting in $2.2 trillion in direct travel spending and generating 62 million jobs. This affords enormous opportunity for nations that embrace it and there are many in the United States who are no longer willing to lose out on that potential revenue. On May 15, 2012, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel Act or, as it is more commonly referred to, the JOLT Act. This bill is an attempt to reform the U.S. visa processing system. One of the highlights is a call for expansion in the number of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows citizens of member nations to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days

CSANews | SUMMER 2012



The Flight of the

Busy! Busy! As most of you are aware, Medipac offers our Early Bird Travel Insurance in July and early August at a 5% extra discount, in addition to your Claims-Free and Loyalty credits. It looks as if this year will be another record-breaking year for travel insurance sales, based on your responses to date. The past season was a difficult one with large increases in hospital and doctor bills primarily due, I believe, to the uncertainty surrounding Obamacare. To give you an example, the average bill for ONE day in the hospital increased from $12,985 during the 2010-11 travel season to $14,577 during the 2011-12 travel season. That represents an increase of more than 12%. Doctor visits and outpatient care increased at an even faster pace – up by 17%. Needless to say, our very modest rate increases last year did not anticipate such strong medical inflation. But there was lots of good news, too. Our relationships with hospitals, clinics and doctor groups,

Some pundits (that means banks, brokerage houses, investment houses, etc.) are calling for an $0.85 dollar next year. This means that when we get a doctor’s bill for $100 U.S., we must pay $117.65 Canadian to settle that bill. With a dollar at par, we would only have to pay $100 Canadian. To put it in perspective, that requires a 17% premium rate increase, just based on the dollar. Please remember the medical inflation which we discussed above, too. Others predict a $0.90 or $0.95 dollar and there are one or two that are still saying par, but they are now rare. We should throw in the “shock” factors now, so that we can get a clearer picture; about as clear as mud, mind you. The November U.S. presidential election is won by Romney/Obama – the U.S. dollar rockets upwards/downwards and the Canadian dollar exchange rate is ------. Please insert your best guess, because that is all it can possibly be. What about parts of Europe falling apart, and that is very close to being

particularly in the United States, grew stronger, and our expected pricing points were very aggressive. We also had excellent results from our air ambulance teams, with one exception being a very complicated extraction from South Africa. The extraction was executed with precision and care and the medical team did an incredible job, but it did cost $130,000. Normal air ambulances from the U.S. to Canada routinely cost in the $10-20,000 range. The really big uncertainty in pricing for this year is, of course, the U.S./Canada exchange rate. Most insurance companies priced at about the par mark for last year and some were caught when the dollar actually fell to the $0.96 range earlier this year. Others hedged their U.S. dollar exposure, back in September of last year, and this worked out well for them, although it is an additional cost to their plans and puts upward pressure on premium rates. But what about this year? No one knows! And I do mean no one.

12 www. snowbirds .org


J. Ross Quigley CEO Medipac International Inc.

Early Bird

Swan” events are very close to reality and are almost expected by many analysts. At Medipac, we tend to be optimistic in everything that we do, so we took a modest rate increase over last year and I wanted to help explain why. It averages about 4% over last year’s main season rates, although travellers under age 60 may be paying more than that. I am looking forward to that wonderful travel season in which everyone is healthy and happy, the dollar is strong, and claims are insignificant. I hope to see you there. Given the tremendous uncertainty over the next few months, travel insurance rates could vary dramatically. Up is the only possible direction and premium rates might go up by a lot. The Early Bird is in flight, already planning its winter travels. You should, too. P.S.: Our telephone lines are very, very busy between 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Calling later in the day or during the early evening would be very helpful to us. Thank you.

devaluation of the U.S. dollar. This has not happened – yet – only because of all the turmoil

a reality. All of the soothing talk is about how everything is now fixed – it is not fixed. If the European crisis broadens, as I expect that it will, even more billions of euros will flow into the

in the world. People have sought safety

in the U.S. dollar and artificially kept the dollar higher than it should be. What will happen when they realize that the U.S. dollar is not really that safe? A massive devaluation is possible. Could it happen next year? Absolutely! A Canadian dollar worth $1.10 to $1.20 is very possible, as we have had excellent monetary policy in Canada for several years. This is a very complicated year in which to predict for the travel insurance business. The above “Black

U.S. seeking safety. The U.S. dollar will soar and our poor little Canadian dollar will be left in the dust. This could drive

it even below the $0.85 mark. The last unknown concern would be to determine what the U.S. dollar is really worth after they have recently printed trillions (with a T) of U.S. dollars to cover all of their “rescue” programs. I believe that the U.S. will print even more trillions going forward. The natural response to money-printing at these levels calls for inflation and a dramatic

CSANews | SUMMER 2012


Canada clubs

Gerry Brissenden CSA Past President

Travels of Gerry and Joan •

Once again, it is nice to be back in Canada. We always enjoy our winters in the United States, but it is always good to be back home. As you saw in the last issue of CSANews , Joan and I were very busy with Canada Club meetings and mailing out the placemats. I received some very nice e-mails and letters from people who used the placemats. They prove to be great for both our Canadian members and their American friends. Order yours early for next season and, if you would like one of our directors to attend and give a brief presentation at your event, just call the office at 1-800-265-3200 giving us the date, location and time. Once back in Canada, we started to attend political events; our first was a fish fry put on as a fundraiser by our local MP Bruce Stanton. This was followed up by the spring Board of Directors meeting in Toronto. At this meeting, the directors and spouses were brought up to date about the “Retiree Visa.” This will allow Canadians to spend up to 240 days in the U.S. Now I know that many of you will not want to spend that amount of time but, should you need to spend a few days cross-border shopping after being away for the winter, or if for some reason you wish to extend your U.S. stay for a few days, this option will be available for you. Some people like to go on a cruise during the summer months. In May, Joan and I attended the Ontario Provincial Police Veterans’ Association annual general meeting in Sudbury. I am a lifetime member of the OPPVA and always attend their meetings. We have a table on which to display the CSA magazines and I always get an opportunity to speak about the CSA at the AGM. During our time in Sudbury, we took the opportunity to go down into one of the mines; this is something which everyone should experience…it is amazing to see how they have progressed with safety over the years. Next, it was a meeting with MPP Laurie Scott in Lindsay, Ontario, followed by a meeting at Queen’s Park with MPP John O’Toole; at these two meetings, I was accompanied by one of our new directors, Karen Huestis. During the meetings, we discussed the Canada Health Act and the fact that the Ontario government was failing to obey the portability section of the act. We also

discussed the amount of time for which we are allowed to be absent from our province and still retain our health care. We stated that we are Canadians and, as such, should be allowed to travel anywhere in our great coun- try and still be covered. This is something which every member should discuss with his or her local member of Parliament. I can assure you that every director will be working hard during the summer months to protect the rights of all travelling Canadians. Have a safe and healthy summer and we hope to see you all in the winter season. Gerry and Joan

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14 www. snowbirds .org

Canada clubs

Canada Day, El Valle Del Sol Park in Mission, Texas A very successful Canada Day was enjoyed by about 300 people; the event included dinner, skits and music performed by some of the attending Canadians. Photo : Canadians sport the popular T-shirts which were made up specifically for the event.

Crystal LakesWauchula Canadian Club luncheon About 100 people – including CSA Past-President Gerry Brissenden – attended this annual event. Photo : (L-R) Organizers Chuck and Barb Ellis, and Sharrie and Bob Noble.

The Canadian Club of the Treasure Coast Events for 2013 have already been set up and will be listed in the fall issue of CSANews . Photo:  Members present a donation of $500 to Mustard Seed Ministries of St. Lucie County.

Sun Life RV Resort Canada Day annual Hands Across the Border event

Planning a Social Event or a Canada Day ? Tell us about it! The fall issue of CSANews will include the Canadian Calendar for the 2012/2013 snowbird season. If you would like your event to appear in the listing, please contact us by August 10, 2012 and provide the event name, date, location, admission (if any) and contact information. Toll-free: 1-877-888-2505; e-mail: placemats@medipac.com As usual, tickets to this popular event were sold out! Americans and Canadians from the park enjoyed a Flag Ceremony and Tribute to the Troops, followed by an excellent catered dinner and dance. Canada Day Committee: (BACK L-R) Bob and Lori Rock, ret. S/Sgt Eric LaFoy, Diane Soch, Lindsey Larsen, Jean-Luc Parent. (FRONT L-R) Connie Boivin, Doug & Shirley Polson, Linda Kelly. (Missing: Nadia LaFoy, Michael Kelly)

Dade City Canadian Club Canada Day This annual event, hosted by John & Florence Boisvert, attracted more than 100 people this year. As part of the festivities, all of the Canadians and their American friends were asked to stand and state where they were from. Photo : (L-R) Event organizers Florence and John Boisvert.

CSANews | SUMMER 2012



Michael Coren


Michael Coren on the set of his nightly television show.

I ’m often asked what are the most memorable and difficult interviews to conduct. It’s not the politicians and the ce- lebrities and, frankly, they seldom have much to say that is important. For me, it’s those who are in pain, have lost some- one, have been touched by tragedy. The mother of a murdered child, the husband of a terror victim, a teenager with cancer. Liam Reid’s mother was a tough one. Not because Kristina Reid is unpleasant – on the contrary, she’s delightful – but because her little boy will go completely blind unless he receives eye surgery inMichigan, and the Ontario government is refusing to pay the $45,000 necessary for the procedure. The hypocrisy is astounding. In Canada, we are not allowed to buy private medical insurance, but are forced to pay high taxes and then often deniedmedical helpwhenwe need it most. Not that our doctors and nurses and hospitals are inferior, because we are generally very fortunate. Yet not always. And in this case, there is no facility or surgeon who can help little Liam and pre- vent the retinal condition called advanced bilateral persistent fetal vasculature syndrome, or Norrie disease; to be blunt, no- body and nothing in Canada can prevent the little fellow from spending the rest of his life blind. “Another boy in Ontario has had 49 treatments paid for by the government,”explains Kristina. “It’s incredibly rare, but one boy has had the treatment, the other not. And it’s not really that ex- pensive, when you consider the waste of money that goes on and the funding of things that seem so unnecessary.” She has a point, of course. All of us have stories of government irresponsibility when it comes to spending, and few things can be more important than saving a little boy’s eyesight. In Alberta, for example, the government has just decided to re- fund transgender surgery. In other words, if aman believes that he is a woman, the public will pay for operations to remove his genitalia. This will cost between $18,000 and $50,000. I’m not going to pretend that I approve of such surgery, nor would I prevent someone from undergoing such a procedure. What I do reject is the idea that the healthy vision of a child is

less significant than the blurred vision of someone who wants to change his or her gender. We also fund the elective surgery of abortion in most of Canada, we give money to extremist groups, to perverse art galleries, to all sorts of people who do not need, but certainly want the hard-earned tax dollars of the Canadian people. The man who can save Liam’s vision and change his life is Dr. Michael Trese, who works at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. This is not an experimental or unreli- able procedure; it has proven to be effective and successful. Ontario’s Health Minister Deb Matthews has been less than helpful, however, and very few people would consider her a particularly competent or reliable minister; frankly, it is a won- der that she was ever given such a vital portfolio, and why she’s still in charge of the department. The “expert” doctor on the board that considers these out-of-country expenses that are sometimes financed by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan has repeatedly refused the Reids’ request. “But he’s not qualified in this field,”argues Kristina Reid.“He’s a cataract surgeon, and this is radically different. He’s judging something he doesn‘t fully understand.” The surgeons at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto who triedunsuccessfully to treat Liam’s right eye in 2009 support the idea of further surgery in Michigan, so those closest to the little boy and his medical condition – and to his well-being – know what is best. Whether the Ontario government will change its policy remains to be seen and as I write, there are signs, just signs, of politicians perhaps coming to their senses. Liam is, tragically, not alone. There are numerous cases inwhich Canadians are denied the right to seek surgery, often life-sav- ing surgery, because of government fiat. The solution seems simple. Allow Canadians to use their own money for their own health; look at the French or German system of two-tier health care; grow up and stop living in the 1930s, and the false para- dise of Tommy Douglas medicine. We need to open the debate and, most important of all right now, we need to make sure that Liam is able to see his mum and dad.

16 www. snowbirds .org


by Jennifer Cox

“ Life is nothing without friendship. ” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

M ost friendships give people a sense of belonging, of being loved, and of knowing that someone other than family cares for and supports them. Is this type of relationship something that can actually help us live longer? Recent studies say yes. “By differentiating between friends, children and other relatives,” the authors of a study on longevity and friendship wrote in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (as reported by The NewYork Times), “we were able to show that it is friends, rather than children or rela- tives, which confer most benefit to survival later in life.” According to another article in TIME, researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pooled data from 148 studies on health outcomes and social relationships concerning more than 300,000 men and women across the developed world – and found that those with fewer friends had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s followup period (an average of 7.5 years), than people with more robust social ties. The report went on to point out how recent lab studies have shown that, in a stressful situation, blood pressure and heart rate will increase less when a person is with a friend. There were also noticeable neurological differences between a person who is alone and a person who has a pal: in a lab-induced stressful situation, brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region activated in times of stress, is lessenedwhen people have a close friend or relative alongside them. Finally, in one of the most famous experiments on health and social life, Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University exposed hundreds of healthy vol- unteers to the common cold virus, then quarantined them for several days. It was quickly discovered that the study participants who had more social connections and with more diverse social networks – that is, with friends from a variety of social contexts such as work, sports teams and church – were less likely to de- velop a cold than the more socially isolated study participants. So not only can friends help you live longer, they help keep you healthy too! Exercise and proper nutrition have been well-known factors in improving longevity; however, these are things that require ef- fort. It’s nice to know that simply enjoying a glass of wine with

a close friend on a cool evening can be adding years to your life. The reasoning behind this seems logical enough – there’s some- thing very comforting and reassuring about having close friends, whether it be to share in good times or rocky ones. Friends can make life-altering tragedies, such as the loss of a spouse or loved one, all the easier to bear. When we find ourselves facing our own demons (such as an illness, perhaps), a friend’s support is invaluable. The lesson is an easy one: Make time for your friends. Be the type of friend that you’d want them to be. Nurture and cherish the friendships that you have and don’t shy away from making new ones. Because in the end, if you do unto others, you’ll find that those “others” are the people who are sharing in your long and fruitful life together.

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