It is extremely comforting to know that as a Canadian, my government has my back. Our tax dollars do more than provide for the obvious things like education and healthcare. Recently, I have learned so much about what the Canadian government provides to citizens who are living or travelling abroad. I guess I always knew these services were available, but I have never given them a second thought.
This is the pledge of the Canadian Consular Services Charter.
Like having an amazing insurance policy and year after year the paperwork just sits in the drawer. Then, one day, there is an event. When you call on the provider to assist, in your time of need, there is an extreme feeling of gratitude when they rise to the tasks at hand.
I can speak from experience after having to use our provincial motor vehicle coverage for a traffic accident I was in. They never let me down and saw my case through to the very end, which took years to resolve. The experience has forever changed the way I feel about paying our car insurance premiums.
In the same vein of ‘hoping to never need the coverage’, here is a list of some of the consular services provided to citizens travelling and living abroad.
Canadian government officials abroad can:
- help in a medical emergency by providing a list of local doctors and hospitals;
- provide advice and contact information for local police and medical services to victims of robbery, sexual assault or other violence;
- provide assistance in cases of missing persons or the abduction of a child to another country;
- replace a lost, stolen, damaged or expired passport;
- contact relatives or friends to request assistance in sending you money or airline tickets;
- transfer funds if urgent financial assistance is required and all other options have been exhausted;
- contact next of kin, with your authorization, if you have had an accident or are detained by police;
- advise local police in Canada to contact next of kin in case of death;
- provide assistance to repatriate the remains of your loved one back to Canada;
- help you, in case of a death abroad, to identify a funeral home experienced in international funeral arrangements in the region where the death took place as well as a funeral home in Canada;
- request timely and transparent investigations into suspicious circumstances in the event of an alleged or apparent crime or death (although consular officials cannot interfere in an investigation or legal matter);
- contact friends or family on your behalf, with your authorization.
- provide you with a list of local lawyers;
- provide you with sources of information about local laws and regulations.
I honestly had no idea of the scope of services available to Canadians. It goes without saying, I hope we never need to call on these folks. But, it is a little piece of extra confidence I am carrying with me, knowing we are not completely on our own. Maybe most countries governments are aligned with this support, at least I hope so.
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