The Canadian Snowbird Association has won a legal battle to restore out-of-province insurance coverage for Ontarians travelling outside of the country.
In the summer, the Snowbirds took the Attorney General of Ontario to court over the province’s Jan. 1 decision to eliminate the Out-of-Country Travellers Program (OCTP), which reimburses Ontario residents for medical emergencies experienced outside of Canada.
The decision made Ontario the only province in the country to cut all emergency medical coverage for residents travelling abroad, the Snowbirds said in a release.
The Ontario Divisional Court has now ruled that the province does not have the legal authority to revoke the OCTP. Revoking the OCTP contravenes the federal government’s Canada Health Act, which requires provinces to provide coverage to residents who are temporarily absent, the court found.
In a release, the Snowbirds said the decision restores reimbursement rates “to $200 and $400 per day for emergency inpatient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services.”
The association said that it still advises its members to obtain adequate medical insurance prior to taking trips abroad, adding that the re-established OCTP “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,” Snowbirds president Karen Huestis said in the release. “The ruling affirms the right of Ontario residents to out-of-country emergency insurance coverage, as required by the Canada Health Act.”
The Canadian Snowbird Association has 115,000 members across Canada, including more than 50,000 members in Ontario.