The stereotypical Canadian winter can be really tough on citizens of all ages in most of the country. Many farm families jet south for a winter reprieve, and even more have family members that spend the entire winter in warmer regions of the United States.
Whether it’s Arizona, Florida, or California, older Canadians love the sunshine and the ability to escape the frigid north. According to Canada Post, 500,000 Canadians make the trek south for the winter. Canadians have the ability to stay in the U.S. for six months minus a day and many “snowbirds” take full advantage of all those warmer days.
Snowbirds usually return to Canada based on their own schedules, but COVID-19 has forced the Prime Minister and several premiers to call them home to Canada. Similar to the call home for military members and tourists, the federal government wants to protect all Canadians from not being able to return in the future if border closure measures heighten. Many farms across the country will need these snowbirds back for seeding and planting season, which is fast approaching.
“Many of us in agriculture probably know a handful of semi- or fully-retired farmers that are south right now, so the agriculture community needs to encourage them to return to the country as the Prime Minister has suggested,”says Shaun Haney of RealAgriculture.
In a release by the Canadian Snowbirds Association, there were some caveats for any Canadians returning to the country: “The Prime Minister also announced that any travellers who are symptomatic, regardless of citizenship, will not be permitted to board a flight into Canada. He noted that airline operators will now be permitted to block individuals with symptoms from boarding planes.”
If snowbirds do refuse to return, the CSA is encouraging people to at least contact their health insurer to see how an individuals health coverage may be impacted given the COVID-19 situation.
Additionally, all snowbirds returning to Canada must self isolate for fourteen days. Canadian Border Services has released a list of items for returning snowbirds to keep in mind.