In November, the Canadian Snowbird Association announced its intention to pursue legal action against the Ontario government over the Province's plan to end out-of-country OHIP coverage. The association has now issued the update below, which we share for your information:
As you know, earlier this year the Ontario Government introduced a policy proposal to eliminate OHIP's Out-of-Country (OOC) Travellers Program. This program provides reimbursement for Ontario travellers who face medical emergencies while travelling outside of the country. After a meager 6-day consultation period and meeting with CSA representatives on this issue, the Ontario Minister of Health, Christine Elliott decided to proceed with terminating out-of-country medical coverage for Ontario residents.
The termination of all coverage is unprecedented. This policy change, which is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2020, would make Ontario the only jurisdiction in Canada to cut all emergency medical coverage for residents travelling abroad.
The Canadian Snowbird Association is pleased to announce that we have formally filed a legal challenge against the Ontario Government's impending cuts to out-of-country emergency insurance coverage. At this time, our request for an interim injunction will not be considered until the new year. This means that the Out-of-Country Travellers Program will be cancelled as planned on January 1, 2020. We remain hopeful that our injunction will be granted in early 2020 and that the program will be reinstated until the merits of our case are determined at a later date.
As we have stated previously, the elimination of Ontario's Out-of-Country Travellers Program will not only increase private travel medical insurance premiums by an estimated 7.5 per cent, it is also an egregious violation of the portability principle of the Canada Health Act (CHA).
Portability is one of the five pillars set out in the Canada Health Act that govern the Canadian health care insurance system. Under the CHA, residents who are temporarily absent from their home province or territory or from Canada, must continue to be covered for insured health services during their absence. 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.
We need your help. All of our advocacy efforts are funded through member donations. Please make a donation today and help us mount this critical legal challenge against the Ontario Government and the illegal termination of provincial out-of-country medical coverage. Online donations can be made at https://www.snowbirds.org/special-action-fund/
Donations can also be made by contacting our head office toll-free at 1-800-265-3200.
Challenging the illegal actions of the Ontario Government is crucial not only for our Ontario members but for our members across Canada. If Ontario is successful in cutting coverage, this could have a ripple effect across the country as other provinces and territories may attempt to implement similar policies, making travel medical insurance more costly for those who need it most.
Let's make sure that doesn't happen.
Thank you for your continued support. Together, we can win.
Karen Huestis, President
The Canadian Snowbird Association
The Voice of Travelling Canadians