Canada has a significant snowbird population—people, mostly retired, who spend their winters in warmer climates and return home when the thaws start. But now a large group of them are squawking, because Ontario has cut off their out-of-country health benefits, even for emergencies.
The Canadian Snowbird Association has filed suit against the change, which took place on January 1st and only involves Ontario, at least for now. All other provinces continue to cover at least emergency care.
The CSA lawsuit is based on a provision of the Canada Health Act, which guarantees portability of health benefits and provides that all 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.
The changes were part of cutbacks in many areas implemented by the new provincial government elected in 2018. Ontario is a particular focus for the snowbirds; about 43% of the 115,000 members are from Ontario, which accounts for about 38% of Canada's population.