Full-time RVing During A Pandemic

“We will not be taking out of province bookings for the rest of 2020.” That was the helpful response I received when looking to make a reservation in British Columbia for October. Just in case the border does not reopen. Or worse. I’ll get back to the “or worse” in a moment.

What does it mean to be a citizen in Canada during a pandemic? You lose your mobility rights. And that has significant implications for those of us that retire full-time to the RV lifestyle.

The majority of provinces in Canada blocked the movement of Canadians. Some of the blockades involved armed enforcement:

Quebec wasn’t the only government setting up armed blockades within Canada. New Brunswick did it, and so did Prince Edward Island.

In New Brunswick, for weeks, “provincial enforcement officers” were stationed at seven different road crossings, and two airports. Their task: turn back – forcibly, if need be –  anyone they deemed to be “traveling for non-essential reasons.” Canadians from Quebec, PEI and Nova Scotia were routinely refused entry to New Brunswick.

Over and over, motorists trying to enter the province had their licences checked and licence plates recorded – and they were grilled about where they’d been and where they were going. New Brunswick residents were being stopped and questioned, too.

Prince Edward Island, being an island, had an easier time of it. There, highways staff – not police – were given authority by the provincial government to stop anyone crossing the Confederation Bridge.  The Confederation Bridge, a 13-kilometre fixed link between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, was built and paid for by Canada.

The article continues and asks the relevant question. Are the actions of our provincial governments legal?

Because, on a plain reading of Canada’s Constitution – which is, you know, our supreme statute – the blockades were completely illegal.

Section six of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is about mobility rights. Here is what it says: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.”

How important is that section? This important: section 33, the so-called notwithstanding clause – which governments like Quebec’s have routinely invoked to gut essential freedoms – does not even apply to it. It was seen by the framers of our Constitution as that critical: governments aren’t allowed to opt out of it – pandemic or no pandemic.

Can an RV park in one part of Canada refuse to take a booking from an out-of-province Canadian? Yes they can and yes they did. Any form of “non-essential” travel in an RV in Canada is at risk right now and it will probably continue to be at risk through to the end of the year. Or longer.

We are safe and secure and we have shelter until October.

We are not fine after that. The “or worse” scenario will hit us then. Because of government overreach. It is easy to shut things down. Hard to reopen them.

A recent note from one of my financial advisors put it this way:

So there are two schools of thought.

On one hand we overreacted dramatically. Politicians let doctors take over the economy. They closed too much, idled too many, spent too freely and destroyed too widely. Public finances are a ruin. Paying people not to work was unwise. We could have achieved the same result with social distancing and sheltering the vulnerable in those retirement homes, without nuking society.

On the other hand, decisive action, emergency measures and draconian stay-at-home measures saved countless lives. Flattened the curve. We prevented an historic disaster from unfolding. The pathogen was defeated. And our guard cannot be dropped, lest there’s a second wave. This was a public health triumph.

Well, guess which story will be told, regardless of the outcome? Perhaps history will judge. But clarity will not be forthcoming anytime soon.

I do not have the expertise to determine whether government actions were appropriate. My sense is that the public health and government officials in decision-making roles reacted without a full understanding of the virus hence the constant change in rules and regulations.

Okay. Back to the “or worse” scenario.

Will we be able to travel south in the fall?

This article explains the “or worse” scenario for a retired Canadian snowbird couple looking to return south to the United States for the winter:

Insurance broker Martin Firestone believes that when Canada lifts its advisory against international travel, travel insurance providers may continue to exclude coverage for COVID-19-related illnesses — until there’s a vaccine.

“A person who ends up on a ventilator in the U.S., it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, so [insurance providers] are in no position to take that risk,” said Firestone, president of Travel Secure in Toronto.

He said if travel insurance continues to exclude COVID-19 illnesses, many Canadians will refuse to travel, including his snowbird clients.

“I’m worried that the entire snowbird season, upcoming, could be put on ice … until such a time that there is a cure or a vaccine.”

CBC News reached out to several major insurance travel providers to find out if they would resume covering COVID-19-related issues when Canada lifts its travel advisory. They said they couldn’t make a definitive statement at this time.

No travel insurance, no travel. If we became ill in the United States and required care, we could face severe financial consequences if our carrier determined that the symptoms were related to COVID-19.

And who can predict what actions governments might take should a second wave occur in the fall.

A cure? A vaccine?

I doubt that we will see any of that in the next few months.

Very frustrating and very uncertain times for those of us that travel full-time in our coaches. I spent the afternoon looking at houses yesterday. I wanted to put an offer on this one.

Beautiful property in a stunning location.

Lorraine is telling me to wait.

Waiting is hard. Especially when I don’t know where we will be in a few months time.

The probability of returning to Myakka in the fall?

Low.

Very low.

The probability of being able to travel to a milder location in Canada in the fall?

Low.

Very low.

The dream of being home free in our coach has become a bit of a nightmare. COVID-19 began as perhaps a few weeks or a few months of disruption. It now appears to be a force that will disrupt our lives for much, much longer.

This uncertainty impacts most of us full-timing in our coaches in Canada.

Planning is almost impossible.

With only four more months before we have to move somewhere, I am getting just a wee bit concerned.

1 reply
  1. Judy Dalgleish Hampton
    Judy Dalgleish Hampton says:

    I was wondering about your situation and your thoughts about future travel, I hadn’t seen your posts in my inbox so thought to check my junk, and there you were. Anyway, I can certainly understand your dilemma. It must be quit unsettling to not know if RV travel as you were hoping for will return. I’m sure it will eventually. But maybe not this year.
    Praying for you and Lorraine as you look to the future. One thing we know for sure is that the Lord has your future planned out!

    Reply

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