Exploring the changing risks and opportunities associated with Canadians’ participation in international retirement migration during the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Valorie Crooks*,
Topics: Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Canada; international retirement migration; health; pandemic
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Typically, many thousands of older Canadians travel abroad every year to spend the winter months in warmer climates. Southern US states are the most popular destinations. Popularly known as snowbirds, there are a number of reasons why these Canadians participate in this transnational mobility. For some, international retirement migration offers a chance to be more active and social than what would otherwise be possible at home. For other snowbirds, spending winters abroad is a way to promote health and wellbeing more generally. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new risks to this transnational practice that can threaten health, and there are also new opportunities emerging. These risks, in particular, have emerged in sharp contrast to the motivations that drive Canadians to become snowbirds in the first place, and particularly those that relate to health and wellbeing. In this presentation I explore how the COVID-19 pandemic context has changed public understandings of the risks and opportunities associated with older Canadians’ participation in international retirement migration. To do this I draw on reporting from the Canadian mainstream news media to identify the various frames used when discussing snowbirds, their activities, and their travels from the start of the pandemic onward.

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