Options Newsletter: Summer 2007

AGM 2007 Organizational Changes

Representatives for the 13 retired teacher organizations from every province in Canada gathered at the offices of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in Ottawa on June 1-2, 2007 for the 16th Annual General Meeting. As usual, the opportunities to share ideas, renew acquaintances, meet new friends, and to report on the activities of the ACER-CART committees and the issues faced by the provincial organizations were much appreciated. A full AGM report is posted on the ACER-CART website. Drouin’s work on the incorporation of ACER-CART was recognized. This annual meeting of the national organization of Canadian retired teachers faced some unique discussions with the proposal from the Retired Teachers of Ontario to change the structure of the national organization. The proposals initiated a good opportunity to review the purpose for ACER-CART’s existence. The delegates agreed to the addition of an executive position exclusively for RTO/ERO so that there are now four regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West.

A proposal to change the “one rep-one vote” provision of the organization to a weighted vote system based on the fees paid by a provincial organization garnered views from all sides of the issue, including an amendment from the BCRTA that almost succeeded. In the end, delegates opted to retain the current voting arrangement for the coming year.

A proposal to increase the annual per member fee from 20 cents to 25 cents (bringing it to the level it was 16 years ago) was strongly debated on the basis that no strong argument for an increase was evident, and that a more thorough delineation of budgeted expenditures was needed. While the increase motion passed, it was agreed that changes to the manner in which the budget was detailed would be done so as to provide a better breakdown of the use of the funds budgeted. Terms of reference for any reserve funds were requested as well, and ACER-CART will review the bylaws to clarify the definitions of member, member organization, eligible votes and the voting majorities required.

2007- 08 Elections

The annual election of executive officers resulted in some changes for 2007-08. The 2005-07 President, Pat Brady (BCRTA), moved to the position of Past President. He was replaced by Helen Biales (RTO/ERO) who had just completed a term as vice-president. The three Regional Representatives elected were Atlantic: Dr. Thomas Gaskell (RTO-NSTU), Ontario: Ron Poste (RTO/ERO) and West: Vaughn Wadelius (RTAM). Wadelius was also elected as the 2007-08 vice-president.  [NOTE: Arnold Hull has since replaced the Ontario representative. Patricia Steele has become the Quebec representative.]

Pierre Drouin will continue as Executive Director of ACER-CART and CTF will continue to provide Lynne Richard in a secretarial support role for ACER-CART.

executive_2007

(L-R)
Thomas Gaskell
(Atlantic), Helen Biales (President), Pierre Drouin (Executive Director), Vaughn Wadelius (West, Vice-President); Pat Brady (Past President); Lynne Richard( CTF).

Ron Poste (Ontario) missing; (Quebec) To be appointed

ACER-CART Positions Taken

Motions were passed directing the organization to:

  • Accept the Yukon Retired Teachers Alumni (YRTA) as a member of ACER-CART.
  • Lobby the Government of Canada to restore funding for literacy.
  • Lobby the Canadian Teachers’ Federation to urge all provincial Departments of Learning/Education to require the study of History, especially Canadian History, in all Canadian High Schools.
  • Lobby the Government of Canada to restore funding for the Status of Women.
  • Lobby the federal Government to expand the $500 tax deduction for youth fitness to the plus 55 age group to encourage seniors’ wellness as well.
  • Change from 3 Regional Directors to 4 Regional Directors and to add YRTA to Region 4 (West).
  • Adopt a policy advocating support and assistance to active teachers’ organizations.
  • Adopt a policy allowing for support to charitable causes related to human relief and support services; civic and cultural development; environmental and ecological preservation; promotion and advancement of the education, physical and mental health and well-being of children. ACER-CART’s support may be in many forms: for example, letters of support; in-kind services and lobbying.
  • Address the following issues as priorities for 2007-2008: elder abuse; availability and cost of prescription drugs; the effect of escalating property taxes on retirees.
  • Express its concern re the process, the appointments, and the geographic distribution of appointments for the National Seniors’ Council.
  • Lobby the Federal Government to rectify the Government understating of CPI and reimburse the pensioners accordingly.

Committee Reports

Reports of the activities of the ACER-CART committees are a regular feature of the AGM and indicate the effort expended during the previous year to advocate and publicize the positions proposed by the national organization.

Pension and Retirement Income Committee (Helen Biales, Chair)

Limiting the priorities seemed to be effective. The committee’s focus was on lobbying for pension income splitting, and a brief prepared with the assistance of Pierre Drouin was presented by Helen Biales to the federal Standing Committee on Finance. Biales also attended the “Pension Tension Conference” along with some 30 MPs. In the March 2007 federal budget, pension splitting by seniors was announced.

Communications Committee (Vaughn Wadelius, Chair)

The website’s popularity has grown slowly since its startup in 2004. This year’s updating saw the use of a slide show photo presentation on the 2006 AGM, improved document information, and a revamping of the “What’s New” page. Two editions of the ACER-CART newsletter OPTIONS were produced in 2006-07 with political action updates and news for Directors and editors of member organization publications. The additional committee task of producing regular updated member organization contacts for sharing publications was initiated. In spite of health setbacks by the webmaster late in the spring, the website faced only a little disruption.

Health Services and Insurance Committee (Fred Ripley, Chair)

Since 2005 when the committee initiated various surveys on health and service issues, information has been collected. Provincial health plans comparison data was shared and additional work needs to be done with the data. A variety of health issues concerning retired teachers were tracked: long term care assistance; drug programs; Medicare programs vs. private coverage; travel insurance provisions for pre-existing conditions. Data from the surveys on two tier health care systems, type and cost of health plans, and drug plan make-up and costs to seniors has been reviewed.

Additional Representation – CNSO

Val Alcock, the Congress of National Seniors Organizations representative, reported that while facing financial problems it continues to aim for getting as many national organizations as possible together on issues of common concern. Pierre Drouin has advised them on constitutional changes, and Alcock served on a committee looking at seniors and emergencies. Home care is another issue of interest to them. The annual value of retirees’ volunteerism has been estimated at $4 billion. It was agreed to continue membership in the Congress of National Seniors Organizations.

The President Comments (Helen Biales)

It is a privilege and honour for me to serve as the president of ACER-CART for the coming year. As the official national organization of retired teachers, we need to be actively involved in lobbying the federal government on the many issues and concerns that face, not only retired educators but also seniors in general. Seniors have given much to this country to make it a better place, not only for us, but also for the rest of society. Retiring from our professional careers does not mean that we are unable to make valuable contributions to society. If it were not for seniors all the organizations that need volunteers would find it difficult to function.

As a national organization, we have to carefully choose the causes we want to support and lobby for. Often there is a fine line between provincial and federal jurisdiction, and politicians do not appreciate having someone encroach on their territories. With this in mind, ACER-CART selected these three priorities for the coming year: elder abuse, availability and cost of prescription drugs and escalating property taxes. Although there are many more issues, to be successful in our efforts, we have limited ourselves to these three for this year.

Elder abuse is now more openly acknowledged. As we know, this abuse can take many forms: physical, psychological, and financial. Often these people have no one to turn to but the abuser. With age, health becomes a concern for more of us. Medications are needed so that people can continue to live an independent life. The cost of these medications can be astronomical for people on fixed incomes, and certainly the costs vary from province to province. Most retirees worked long and hard to pay off their mortgages and improve their homes prior to retirement. The goal was for the couple (or the remaining spouse) to live in their home as long as possible. Escalating property taxes are making it difficult for these people to maintain their homes.

Hopefully, we have chosen issues where we can have an impact by lobbying the politicians to make them aware of the impact these issues have on seniors. To be successful in our lobbying, we need our members to support our efforts by talking to our politicians. As these issues are being worked on, we will keep your provincial leadership informed of what we are doing and how you can support us.

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