Minister Ablonczy Urges Canadians to Travel Safely and Responsibly this Summer

June 24, 2013 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today issued the following statement urging Canadians to prepare properly ahead of the summer travel season:

“Canadians love to travel,” said Minister Ablonczy. “In fact, they took 59 million trips abroad in 2011. With the summer travel season upon us, it’s important for Canadians planning trips to get to know the road ahead of them.

“Our government has many services to help Canadians get informed about travelling abroad, and tools to help Canadians already exploring the globe to travel smarter and safer. We are committed to ensuring that Canadians get the advice and information they need, wherever they are in the world.”

“Our newly revamped Travel.gc.ca website gives Canadians a single, authoritative and comprehensive source for all government-related travel information—from smart packing tips to Canada-United States border waiting times, and from travel advice and advisories to fact sheets on health and so much more. Canadians can now also get the latest advice and reach us on Twitter and Facebook.

“We encourage all Canadians to tap into these resources to get the information they need to travel or live abroad safely and to make informed decisions.”

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your travels safe and enjoyable:

  • Keep your passport safe—do not leave it unattended. Scan or copy the identification page.
  • Make sure you are aware of the entry requirements and visas for your destination.
  • Children aged less than 18 years and travelling without both parents should carry a consent letter to facilitate travel abroad and return to Canada.
  • Canadians with visual, hearing, mobility or other impairments may find it difficult to travel in certain countries. Travel.gc.ca offers information for disabled travellers on topics such as obtaining additional assistance and parking privileges, and travelling with a service animal.
  • Do not rely on your provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if you become ill or are injured while abroad. Make sure you have supplementary travel insurance.

In addition to Travel.gc.ca, travellers also have access to a new mobile application called Travel Smart. It enables Canadians anywhere in the world to find Government of Canada information and services related to international travel. Canadians abroad are also able to access key travel information through Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds and email updates.

Be sure to read up, register and reach out.

For more information and tips on destinations, travel documents, travel health, returning to Canada and much more, please visit Travel.gc.ca.

A backgrounder follows.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
613-944-2300

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
Follow us on Twitter: @DFAIT_MAECI

Backgrounder - Supplementary Travel Health Insurance

Canadians travelling abroad should not rely on their provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if they become ill or are injured while abroad. Out-of-country health care can be costly, and provincial or territorial health plans may not cover all medical expenses abroad.

Travellers are responsible for seeking information from their provincial or territorial health authority, for obtaining supplementary travel health insurance and for understanding the terms of the policy.

Travellers may also want to buy a travel insurance package that includes coverage for flight cancellation, trip interruption and lost luggage. Doing so can help prevent major disruptions and additional costs.

The following scenarios show why you should seriously consider taking out travel health insurance before travelling—and ensuring that it covers you for the duration of your travel:

  • During a short vacation on a Caribbean island, a Canadian developed a severe form of pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. His health deteriorated, and he was transferred to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine for more than a month. Without insurance, he had to make arrangements with the hospital to pay a bill that amounted to more than $20,000.
  • Young travellers may think they don’t need insurance because they’re young and healthy. But accidents do happen. While walking along a beach on a Caribbean island, a Canadian tourist in her early 20s had an accident that seriously damaged her spine. Her family had to raise funds to pay for her medical evacuation.
  • A Canadian travelling in West Africa had insurance that lapsed three weeks before he was involved in an accident. His family had to raise $300,000 over a three-day period to cover the costs of medical treatment and evacuation. Although the traveller survived, his family was left with a hefty debt to repay.