Options Newsletter: Summer 2008

AGM 2008 Organizational Changes
Representatives for the 14 retired teacher organizations from every Canadian province and one territory (the newest member being the Yukon Retired Teachers Alumnae) gathered at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in Ottawa on June 6-7, 2008, At this 17th Annual General Meeting. the opportunity 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 member organizations were appreciated. [A full AGM report will be posted later on this website.]

Major issues addressed at this meeting included a revamping of the constitution and bylaws documents, clarification of the purpose of the ACER-CART Reserve Fund and the process for its utilization, and financial report formats. Much sharing of events and issues among member organizations took place, based upon well developed written member organization reports. Johnson Inc. representatives gave information on the variations of cancer care throughout the country, accessibility to drug treatment, and accessibility to 24 newer cancer drugs and their public funding status across Canada. A “Best Doctors” plan was explained – an insurance plan that provides participants with quick diagnosis by medical experts when a second opinion is desired.

2008- 09 Elections
The annual election of executive officers resulted in no changes for 2008-09. Helen Biales (RTO/ERO) was elected president. The four Regional Representatives elected were Atlantic: Dr. Thomas Gaskell (RTO-NSTU), Québec: Patricia Steele (QPARSE), Ontario: Arnold Hull (RTO/ERO) and West: Vaughn Wadelius (RTAM). Wadelius was also re-elected as the 2008-09 vice-president. While Pierre Drouin will continue as Executive Director of ACER-CART, due to his other professional responsibilities he has submitted his resignation as of December 31, 2008. CTF staff support person Lynne Richard continues in her secretarial support role for ACER-CART.

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

ACER-CART Positions Taken

Motions were passed at the 2008 AGM directing the organization to:

  • Lobby the Government of Canada to establish a national pharmacare program with a national formulary; establish a national childcare program that is affordable, accountable and accessible; urge government to review and amend the Privacy Act to ensure privacy of personal information is respected; develop national strategies to inform seniors of their rights, available services and to reach out to victims of elder abuse.

  • Take the lead in future Pre-Budget Consultations as per ACER-CART policies

  • Develop a position paper in support of the federal government taking more responsibility for health care.

  • Pursue the issue of the error in calculation of CPI by Stats Canada and request that pensioners be reimbursed accordingly; pursue the elimination of the OAS claw back and Age Credit reduction.

  • Address the following issues as priorities for 2008-2009: elder abuse; availability and cost of prescription drugs; the effect of escalating property taxes on retirees.
  • Establish a search committee to replace Executive Director Pierre Drouin.

Committee Reports

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

Pension and Retirement Income Committee (Arnold Hull, Chair)

Among the positions agreed upon were: encouraging negotiations that guarantee annual inflation protection for all retirees; guaranteed and funded COLAs as part of the pension plan with adequate funding; encouraging seniors to check their property assessments to ensure fairness and be aware of how to appeal; seniors use opportunities to be heard at local property tax sessions.

Communications Committee (Vaughn Wadelius, Chair)

The website’s updating included slide show photo presentations on the AGMs since 2006, improved document information, and a revamping of the “What’s New” page. Two editions of the ACER-CART newsletter OPTIONS were produced in 2007-08. As well, special emails, media releases and political action updates and news alerts for Directors were utilized. A periodically updated member organization contacts list for sharing publications was continued. The death of the original ACER-CART webmaster in January was lamented. His duties were assumed by the Communications chair.

Health Services and Insurance Committee (Thomas Gaskell, Chair)

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. It was agreed to reaffirm current policy on Health Care in Canada, lobby for a national formulary/drug plan, coordinate a common front for enforcement of the core principles of the Canada Health Act, and initiate efforts for an ombudsman and trained provincial advocates for seniors.

Additional Representation – CNSO

Helen Biales, our representative with the Congress of National Seniors Organizations, was requested to seek an awareness campaign by CNSO to take action against elder abuse.

2008-09 President Helen Biales Comments

Welcome to the newest member of ACER-CART – Yukon Retired Teachers’ Alumni (YRTA) – our first territorial organization. Our 2008 AGM was very busy and informative. As always, the representatives from the member organizations updated everyone on what was occurring in their provinces. It is always interesting to hear how differently retired teachers are treated in each region.

ACER-CART continues to lobby politicians on areas of concern identified by its members. This year health and the issues surrounding it have been identified as our main focus. We plan to lobby the federal government to develop a national pharmacare program. It is our hope that such a program would make more drugs available in all the provinces and territories at an affordable price.

While many other issues were discussed, we believe we are most effective when we work on a few. Health is a contentious issue as each province considers it part of its mandate and does not want interference from the federal government, except to transfer funds to the provinces. One AGM discussion dealt with how we can lobby effectively and we agreed that members need to lobby their own MPs to let them know our issues. At the national level, ACER-CART will be copying its government lobby letters to the various opposition party critics.

Executive Director Pierre Drouin has announced his retirement as of December. We thank Pierre for all his hard work on behalf of the ACER-CART. He was honoured by the organization at the AGM banquet on Friday night and at lunch on Saturday. The process of looking for a replacement for Pierre has begun.

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