Snowbird FAQs is a forum where we provide answers to some of the most common and interesting questions we receive from Snowbird Advisor members that we feel will be of interest to other members.
We are planning to spend next winter in some more exotic destinations and are finding conflicting information about health and safety in those destinations. Where can we get reliable information?
Canadians can get reliable health and safety travel information on the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisory Website designed specifically for travellers.
The website provided information about:
- Local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
- Possible health hazards and restrictions
- Natural hazards and climate
- Entry and exit requirements
- Local laws and culture
- Where to find help while you are travelling abroad
We also recommend that Canadian snowbirds register with Canadian Consular Services when they are travelling. You can learn more about why we recommend registering with Canadian Consular Services here.
You can register online or in-person at a Canadian consulate office.
I’ve heard that when OHIP stops coverage for out-of-country medical expenses, my private travel insurance policy won’t cover me either because one of the eligibility requirements is that I need to be covered by OHIP for out-of-country medical expenses.
This doesn’t seem right. Is it true?
The short answer is no, this is NOT true.
Private travel medical insurance plans simply require you to be covered by OHIP (or the Government Health Insurance Plan in your province of residence). They do not require OHIP to cover you for out-of-country medical expenses.
You can find more detailed information here about how this rumour may have started and what the facts are.
I’ve been wondering if I should get the flu shot in Florida rather than the Canadian one since I spend most of the winter down there. Is there a difference?
We consulted with several medical professionals and learned that the flu shot is the same throughout North America – and indeed, in most Western countries. The flu strains that are covered in the shot each year are generally the same everywhere and the efficacy rate varies from year to year depending on how accurate the prediction was as to which strains would be dominant.
There is also an extra strength flu shot now that is recommended for seniors over 65.
While our research indicated that the flu shot is the same across North America, we still suggest you consult with your doctor on this point in case things change.
My husband and I have both just retired and are beginning our snowbird lifestyle. I have heard that we could lose our provincial health insurance coverage if we spend too much time outside Canada.
My question is this: Is there a limit to how long we can be away and still retain our OHIP coverage in Ontario?
Yes, there is a limit in each province for how long you can be away without being at risk of losing your health coverage.
For Ontario residents, you are generally allowed to spend up to 212 days outside the province in any 12 month period and still maintain your provincial health care coverage (there may be exceptions in certain circumstances).
If you plan to spend more than 212 days outside Ontario in a 12 month period, it is best to check with Service Ontario to explain your circumstances and get clarity on whether you will be able to retain your coverage.
Every province has its own rules for how much time you can spend outside your home province and still retain your health care coverage, so snowbirds in other provinces should check with their provincial health ministry for clarification.
You can find a summary of how long you can spend outside each province and still retain your health care coverage here.
On a side note, Canadians snowbirds should also be aware of the limits for how long they can spend in the U.S. without violating U.S. tax and immigration rules.
I take medical marijuana and cannabis oil for various health conditions. These medications really help me a lot. Can I bring them with me to my winter home in the U.S. since they are for medical purposes?
Unfortunately for you and other Canadians who depend on using cannabis products for medical reasons, cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal laws in any form and quantity, making it illegal to bring it across the Canada-U.S. border, even though some U.S. states have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes.
Do not attempt to fly or drive cross the Canada-U.S. border with any amount of cannabis in any form. You could be barred from entering the U.S., charged with an offence or even serve jail time.