Potential Clampdown on Snowbirds: What you Can Do

New information sharing measures between the United States and Canada could drastically affect snowbirds, or Canadians who choose to leave Canada in harsh winters to live in the southern United States.

The new measures would require legislation to go through, but essentially anyone receiving social benefits who is out of the country longer than those benefit programs allow would now be “caught” by the new entry-exit border tracking system. Information would also be collected on passengers leaving by plane, with the government being notified when a resident leaves and when they return.

The information was collected through an Access to Information Act request, and consists of government memos dated from the summer of 2014 that circulated among various government agencies.

How it affects seniors

The new regulations will affect three social services programs; Employment Insurance, the Child Tax Benefit, and Old Age Security (OAS) payments. While the first two will likely not affect seniors, the last is cause for concern.

Essentially, if you have not maintained a 40-year residency in Canada past the age of 18, you may not receive the full amount of OAS payments.

Advocacy and preventing legislation

If you are concerned about new legislation which tracks your movements, and may possibly penalize you, you can write to your local Member of Parliament urging them to not make the changes outlined in the memos. If you are a frequent traveller, or plan to be in your retirement, consider joining the Canadian Snowbird Association. This is a non-profit association that has been advocating for the rights of Canadian long-term travellers since 1992.

Their organization is an excellent resource for anyone who plans to travel in retirement, and contains useful information not just about their advocacy work, but additional considerations that future snowbirds may have such as tax filing and connections with other Canadians who want to live the same lifestyle.

A reverse mortgage can help finance a snowbird lifestyle

If you would like to become a snowbird, but don’t think you have the money to do it, a reverse mortgage can help. If you are over 55, you can unlock up to 50% of your home equity with the CHIP Home Income program. With a reverse mortgage, there are no monthly payments and it only needs to be repaid when you sell your home.

Contact Horizon Equity today to find out how we can get you your snowbird wings.