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U.S. gun crime, health insurance woes scare off Canadian diplomats

Blackadder1916

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I am sure there'll be inevitable opinions about whining Canadian foreign service officers.

The union that represents Canadian diplomats abroad says Global Affairs Canada should consider boosting compensation for those posted to the United States because they face increased risk of gun crime and difficulty accessing health care.

Pamela Isfeld, head of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, suggested that Ottawa's appraisals of security threats aren't as robust for the U.S. as they are for other countries.

"If you were talking about a post in Africa where you had had half a dozen lockdowns because of active shooters in the last year, that would go into the security assessment of that post," she said

Isfeld said Global Affairs Canada has faced "major problems" getting people to serve south of the border, and she says the department is chalking this up to the idea that diplomats might want more exotic postings.

That's a misunderstanding of the situation, Isfeld said, noting the federal government often emphasizes the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship and the necessity of having top performers on diplomatic missions there.

"And yet there's very little support," she said.

Global Affairs Canada did not provide a response when asked early last week whether it has difficulty filling these postings or wished to address Isfeld's comments.

Canadian diplomats are posted to the embassy in Washington, D.C., along with consulates and trade offices spread across 15 other cities, from Boston to Los Angeles and Minneapolis to Houston.

Isfeld said the alleged shortfall in staffing U.S. missions comes partly as a result of compensation that doesn't reflect the risks and inconveniences of living in America.

During an appearance on the Canadian Global Affairs Institute's Global Exchange podcast earlier this month, she said one diplomat currently posted at a U.S. mission is trying to get transferred out because the unnamed city's police department is underfunded and crime is spiraling.

"There has been all kinds of lockdowns and evacuations in the office. The person says they've personally witnessed five shootings, and yet nobody will look at hardship levels or incentive packages, or even enhanced security budgets for those missions to deal with that," Isfeld said in the episode.

In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, Isfeld said American postings certainly have advantages for staff, such as proximity to their Canadian relatives and an agreement that allows spouses of diplomats to work in the U.S. — unlike in many other countries.

But she said safety issues are an increasing concern for diplomats and public servants from other federal departments taking up U.S. postings.

Isfeld said there is a trend in which Ottawa is sending more staff from other Canadian government departments to the U.S. because not enough foreign-service officers are willing to go. She said there hasn't been any formal data analysis on the matter.

One person left an American posting early a few years ago, Isfeld said, because there had been a school shooting nearby and their child was scared to attend class.

In addition, Global Affairs Canada has had a rocky transition to a new health-insurance provider, and diplomats have reported delays in getting responses to claims and questions while abroad.

Isfeld said that poses a particular problem in the U.S., where there is virtually no public health care and providers often withhold treatment until an insurance payment is sorted out.

Other countries, she said, often have a publicly funded plan that diplomats can fall back on, or will offer primary medical services before sorting out the billing.

She cited two recent cases in which either a Canadian posted in the U.S. or one of their relatives in that country experienced problems accessing medical care.

One "had a heart attack and was delayed in the emergency room because they could not get the information that they needed from the insurance provider," she said. Another had to delay cancer treatment because of a similar issue.

"That kind of thing just should not be happening. And people hear those stories and they don't want to go (to the U.S.)," Isfeld said.

"It all kind of adds up."

Isfeld noted that it would be "very politically incendiary" for Canada to formally name an American city as a hardship posting.

That's a label usually only applied to postings in developing countries where there are high rates of crime, woeful infrastructure or rampant disease.

Former Canadian diplomat Roy Norton pushed back on Isfeld's comments.

He said the department should rectify issues in its insurance coverage, but it doesn't owe diplomats extra pay for working in a country where Canadians regularly take vacations.

"The implication or inference that we might have to treat the United States as effectively a hardship set of postings, and compensate in a corresponding fashion, strikes me as almost ridiculous," he said.

Norton was posted in Washington, Detroit and Chicago before taking on the role of protocol chief, a senior job that includes overseeing the security of foreign diplomatic missions within Canada.

Now a University of Waterloo professor, Norton said postings in the U.S. are unique in that the job overwhelmingly involves engaging with civil society and business leaders, instead of just "officialdom" in the national capital.

Canadian envoys to the U.S. are positioned in a similar culture and have access to schools that can teach the children of diplomats a curriculum similar to that of many provinces.

Norton said the department could face "considerable" public pushback if it did boost compensation packages for American postings, given that the Trudeau government is trying to open new embassies in more countries while cutting back the department's budget.

In fact, he said that Global Affairs ought to consider expanding rules that require certain types of diplomats to do a hardship posting early in their career, and complement that with a posting at an American mission as well, given the importance of the U.S. to Canadian interests.

"But I acknowledge that it's not everybody's cup of tea," he said.

"A lot of people don't join Global Affairs Canada to be posted somewhere that you could drive to."

But I wondered if there were any similar concerns voiced by military pers posted to the US, especially CDLS(W). This, from the article, particularly caught my attention.

In addition, Global Affairs Canada has had a rocky transition to a new health-insurance provider, and diplomats have reported delays in getting responses to claims and questions while abroad.
Isfeld said that poses a particular problem in the U.S., where there is virtually no public health care and providers often withhold treatment until an insurance payment is sorted out.
Other countries, she said, often have a publicly funded plan that diplomats can fall back on, or will offer primary medical services before sorting out the billing.
She cited two recent cases in which either a Canadian posted in the U.S. or one of their relatives in that country experienced problems accessing medical care.

The on-going clusterf*** that is Canada Life and PSHCP is bad enough at home, but likely is exacerbated when US billing is involved.
 
But I wondered if there were any similar concerns voiced by military pers posted to the US, especially CDLS(W). This, from the article, particularly caught my attention.
Yes. I’m not sure how many folks are at CDLS (W), but there are 150 CAF members at NORAD HQ in Colorado Springs, not to mention the NORAD outstations (EADS, WADS, ANR, Tyndall…).

The on-going clusterf*** that is Canada Life and PSHCP is bad enough at home, but likely is exacerbated when US billing is involved.
Absolutely.
 
FWIW no Hospital down here will deny emergency services for insurance. Some non emergency ones sure, but most will bill you and turn the bill to collections if it isn’t paid.

Medical bills down here can be pretty ridiculously expensive even with insurance.

I read that article and wondered how fucked up some people are. Just like areas of Canadian cities there are spots down here that one should avoid, or at least between certain hours.

I’ve lived down here since I got out of the CAF in 2004, I feel safer personally here than in Canada, somewhat because I’m armed ;)
 
I am sure there'll be inevitable opinions about whining Canadian foreign service officer.

Yup, fuck them. Normal Canadians, right here at home, are scared of all the violent criminals that trudeau keeps letting out of jail. The more violent the crime the faster they hit the bricks it seems. We get no compensation for the hug a thug revolving door. Neither should a diplomat.
 
Stats don't matter to those that get killed or wounded. There's more than one factor, other than population, that goes into this.
 
Honestly I’ve legitimately tried to troll gang bangers, by a buddy of mine and I getting into my wife’s old Honda Civic and wearing turtle neck sweaters driving in sketchy areas and acting lost. Apparently we screamed ‘bait car’

Every gunfight/shooting I’ve been part of down here was LE related, in shitty areas, involving bad folks (who were overly confident in their own capabilities) Yes I’ve been to some homicides that didn’t involve “known to LE” individuals, sadly all domestics.

Do bad things happen to good people, yes, but if you have the situational awareness levels higher than that of a rock, you can really limit the danger you are exposed to.
 
Honestly I’ve legitimately tried to troll gang bangers, by a buddy of mine and I getting into my wife’s old Honda Civic and wearing turtle neck sweaters driving in sketchy areas and acting lost. Apparently we screamed ‘bait car'.
That sounds like fun😂 Probably the Howard Walowiitz uniform that gave you away.
 
When my family and I go to Minneapolis, we have never felt in danger. But then again, we don’t go to dodgy parts of the city, i.e. Da Hood.
But it’s like when your touring Ottawa the only difference here and Gataenu is a right lane
 
I have seen worse, much much worse…

When my wife and I moved to Florida in 2009, my employer provided health care considered my wife being pregnant a pre-existing condition, so there went $7,500…
I mean, isn’t it technically an “existing” condition? :unsure:
 
Honestly I’ve legitimately tried to troll gang bangers, by a buddy of mine and I getting into my wife’s old Honda Civic and wearing turtle neck sweaters driving in sketchy areas and acting lost. Apparently we screamed ‘bait car’

Every gunfight/shooting I’ve been part of down here was LE related, in shitty areas, involving bad folks (who were overly confident in their own capabilities) Yes I’ve been to some homicides that didn’t involve “known to LE” individuals, sadly all domestics.

Do bad things happen to good people, yes, but if you have the situational awareness levels higher than that of a rock, you can really limit the danger you are exposed to.
The breakdown of homicides by county is very interesting. Some have not seen a homicide in a decade, 2% of them account for 50% of the yearly homicides. Plus the average number of murder by long gun(any type) is around 400 a year.
 
I am sure there'll be inevitable opinions about whining Canadian foreign service officers.



But I wondered if there were any similar concerns voiced by military pers posted to the US, especially CDLS(W). This, from the article, particularly caught my attention.



The on-going clusterf*** that is Canada Life and PSHCP is bad enough at home, but likely is exacerbated when US billing is involved.
No kidding. We used to be covered by Great-West Life and service was good. Then GWL, London Life and Canada Life merged. Life not so good anymore.
 
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