Integrity Challenge part 1

This is truncated from a letter I wrote early on in my international adventures.  About an opportunity I had to try to twist the system for a good cause by lying and how I wrestled through that decision at the time.

The letter I had been waiting for, to explain why I needed an exemption from my government health insurance residency requirements for an upcoming international opportunity, had finally arrived.  So I made the trip to a neighboring city so I could visit the government office to quickly take care of it. I even felt like God had handpicked the lady behind the counter to help me. She was very helpful and everything was going by the book swimmingly until I handed over my passport as one of my pieces of identification. Suddenly the lady who had been helping me froze as she looked at it.

“We don’t have anything on file about you studying in Australia or India.”

“Oh, that’s because I was always really careful to meet the residency requirements during those stints … I never needed an extension before so I’d never put anything on file … see you can see by the stamps on the passport when I returned … that all the dates work out.”

“I’m sorry but all of these stamps show you coming into the States … there is nothing showing when you came into Canada. For all we know you’ve been living out of the States for the past 3 years.”

It was at this point that I started realizing that this could be turning into something quite serious.

“I’ll talk to my boss … but I’m pretty sure that we’ll have to put a red flag and a hold on your issuance until we receive some official information from the schools you were attending confirming that you were a full time student while you were gone.”

“But I was never gone long enough for that to matter.”

“But you don’t have any proof of that … here let me talk to my boss.”

So she left … and I started to fret … a lot actually … how in the world was I going to be able to get those campuses to get me the requisite info in time for me to be able to get it to OHIP before I left in less then 2 days!  If anything happened with my lungs while traveling, no private insurance would cover pre-existing conditions … etc. etc.

Then she came back.

“Yup, it’s as I thought, we have to red flag you … also because this letter has ‘British Columbia’ in the letterhead and says ‘returning’ instead of ‘going’ to India we can’t accept it to authorize an extended leave of absence either.”

My brain was going 100 kph.

“Wait! What about the letters that I have filed from the schools with my income tax reports? And my pay stubs from the school boards. That would prove that I was here right?”

“That might work.”

“O.K. I’m not leaving until Wednesday … I could come in tomorrow maybe …”

“You still won’t be able to get the extension.”

“If I find a way in the next 7 months to be registered under something in Ontario would I be able to get the extension then?”

“Yes … if it was registered in Ontario.”

So I left, and I was boiling over with anxiety the entire drive home … I knew I was being attacked by fear but wasn’t doing a very good job of fighting it.

Then later then night as I was going over everything one last time, just to make sure, I made a discovery.

I had made an addition mistake.

I, a Queen’s grad from “Applied Math – computing and communication” had added my weeks wrong. Or subtracted them wrong or something … at any rate no matter how I looked at it now I was staring at a 12 month period where I had been gone a few weeks too long.

I had lost my health insurance.

I had lost my health insurance if …

if I told them …

if I didn’t tell them however…

if I didn’t point it out … they would never know. When I had told them that I had never been out for longer then a 7 month period today I had done so with a clear conscience … if I didn’t bother to correct myself when I went in tomorrow would that really be lying?

Thanks for reading 🙂


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