OPTIONS – Summer 2015

MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT JOANN LAUBER:

Lauber-JoAnn- smAs this new year begins for ACER-CART, we approach it with heightened anticipation of our engagement in a few short months in a civic event of huge import: the coming federal election. In the past year we have been working to enable our members to be fully and meaningfully involved in communication with each political party and its candidates. We must be mindful as well of our role as older citizens in a democracy.  As retired people, elders embodying wisdom, the fruits of experience, and vision born of a full life in our blessed country, we want to be examples for other sections of society of the good citizen.

It is not a role new to us retired educators. In our earlier years, we dedicated our energy, thought, and creativity to support and nourish society and to improve the quality of life for each and every one of our students, future Canadians. As educators we sought to foster harmony in a society where each person has equal access to happiness and security. Our professional goals were to nurture, to bring orderliness to society by being orderly and intelligent and exemplary in our own lives and in our profession.

It is important that those same goals continue to guide us and that the reserves of experience and wisdom accumulated in the course of our entire lives be not lost. We have a role of responsibility as stewards of our nation, to strive for and to preserve what is right and good, lasting and of value, for those in our care.

To fulfill that role, we must continue to engage in activism so that we leave for generations to come a Canada of equal access to health care, of financial independence and security for all, in a society of active participation, social justice and supportive, care-giving environments.

Peggy Taillon, visiting speaker at our AGM, said to us: Everyone has a duty to be a responsible citizen. Being a responsible citizen results in a happy and harmonious community – if everyone else does the same. In fact, to be truly responsible citizens, we sometimes must go out of our way to do things which help our society – give a little of our time and effort for the greater good.

We must, as individuals, as retired teachers, ask ourselves what we are doing to help preserve the great principles on which our communities, this nation and our freedoms are based.

One thing we each could do is to encourage and make it possible for our fellow Canadians to vote. Elections Canada states, “For older or retired citizens, voting remains one of relatively few means of expressing their political will.” In addition, the “act of voting is socially validating and fosters a sense of social inclusion and dignity.”  We want that sense of empowerment to be experienced not only by our fellow older Canadians but by all other generations who are permitted to engage in this privilege of having their voices heard and contributing to a Canada imbued with the values we are proud of.

We may be inclined to think that with the huge scale of society and the enormous size of government we, as individual citizens, can accomplish little or nothing.  However, we can do something in the coming civic opportunity, each in our own way, to achieve the kind of society we want – one in which government is “caring, consultative and committed” to building a country characterized by freedom, justice, concern and respect for all.   In the words of Mother Teresa, the great humanitarian, “We ourselves [may] feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Become informed. Initiate the conversation. Vote.

 

2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING:

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The 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ACER-CART was held on Friday June 5 and Saturday, June 6, 2014 in the Ottawa office of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).

 

PRE-AGM SEMINARS AND PRESENTATIONS:

Prior to the AGM, delegates met on Thursday, June 4 at the Southway Hotel to participate in pre-AGM seminars and presentations that included an orientation session for new delegates presented by Vaughn Wadelius, and presentations from Lorraine Rekmans for the Greens, MP Irene Mathyssen for the NDP, and John McCallum for the Liberals. The Conservative Party were unable to send a rep to our Pre-AGM forum on Thursday afternoon.

  1. Lorraine Rekmans, is the Green Party Indigenous Affairs Critic and candidate for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
  2. MP Irene Mathyssen represents the London-Fanshawe area. She is the NDP Caucus Chair, the Official Opposition Critic for Seniors and she is the Deputy Critic for Heritage
  3. MP John McCallum is the Liberal candidate for the new riding of Markham-Thornhill and is the current Member of Parliament for Markham-Unionville. Prior to his entry into public service, John worked as the chief economist for the Royal Bank of Canada. Before beginning his career with RBC, John was a professor of economics at several Canadian universities. He also served as the Dean of Arts at McGill University, where he helped to secure $10 million to establish the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. John was first elected in 2000; he has since filled a variety of cabinet positions, including Minister of National Defence. He is currently the Liberal Critic for Citizenship and Immigration, Multiculturalism and Seniors.

 

EXECUTIVE REPORTS:

 The Friday AGM session received reports from the Executive officers, the standing committees. The report of 2014-15 President JoAnn Lauber highlighted actions taken during her term: Advocacy ties with :

  1. the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF),
  2. the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), The Congress of Union Retirees (CURC) with the Seniors Vote Coalition,
  3. the National Association of Federal Retirees (NAFR-formally FSNA) with the Canadian Coalition for Retirement Security,
  4. the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) with the Choosing Wisely Canada and the Alliance for a National Seniors Strategy and
  5. the production of brochure, A Vision for Canada / une vision pour le Canada a non-partisan but politically strategic statement in support of seniors prepared by ACER-CART.

The Executive Director, Roger Régimbal, reported that finances were on a sound footing, with a balanced budget proposed for 2015-16. He indicated that there was an increase of 2,299 members this year.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Communications:

Use of the website to provide various documents and information for Directors during the year; the publication of three communications; conference calls used to facilitate discussion.

Karma Creative Solutions is preparing a new “friendly” website. More news to come. At least one issue of OPTIONS, the ACER-CART Newsletter is prepared per year. As well, communication reports are sent to the directors and observers, usually after the three executive conference calls.

 

A REPORT FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS CHAIR:

Communications Chair, Norbert Boudreau advocates the following consideration for the use of Twitter.  ACER-CART and associates should reach out to our politicians by using social media, especially as we are going into an election on or before October 19, 2015. Twitter is the easiest way to communicate our message-A vision for Canada / une vision pour le Canada.

 

A TWITTER IN-SERVICE:

Step 1: Set up an account-This part is easy.

Go to http://twitter.com and click the big green “Get Started – Join!” button.

On the resulting screen, enter the username you want, your desired password, your email address and complete the spam checker

My username id is @nobato… yours can be @robin or @whatever you want.

 

Step 2: Enter your profile information

Twitter is, to a large extent, a social network. If you want people to want to connect to you, you’ll need to tell them a little bit about you. Nothing scary; nothing that will compromise yourself; just a little bit so people know who you are.

As for me, I identified myself as RTO/ERO’s past president. You can use your position on ACER-CART’s Executive or your position on your provincial or territorial association.

Log into Twitter, and click on the ‘Settings’ link at the top of your Twitter homepage.

Your profile on Twitter follows the same principles as the updates you post – short, sharp and to the point. The ‘Account’ tab of the ‘Settings’ section includes a text box that lets you input a 160-character blurb about yourself, along with a link to your website and the city where you live. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything horribly revealing.

@nobato is my Twitter handle i.e. my Twitter name that I gave myself when I signed up. People who message or mention me on Twitter would use this to address you.

# (hashtag) is a topic tag which is used to categorize and organize a conversation around a specific topic. The hashtag is followed by letters or words and cannot stand alone (i.e. you couldn’t have just # because it wouldn’t refer to anything). Some examples of # are: #topoli is the hashtag (#) for Toronto politics. Anyone wanting to follow Toronto politics would search #topoli on Twitter or use the hashtag to share something that relates to Toronto politics. Similarly, #cdnpoli is one of the hashtags for Canadian politics. People who want to post or follow Canadian politics use this hashtag, which is the most common. Here is a list on Politwitter of the hashtags used for Cdn politics, including descriptions http://politwitter.ca/page/canadian-politics-hash-tags.

 

If interested, join me at my twitter id @nobato and I will try to help you along.

Health Services & Insurance:

Health care trends across Canada; commonly used drugs and paramedical services; and information on initiatives to stay healthy.

 

Legislation:

The Legislation Committee recommended that Articles dealing with member associations, signing officers, the termination of mandate of officers and ballot proceedings be amended.

 

Pension & Retirement Income:

The three types of pension plans were defined and explained:

  • Defined Benefit Pension Plan
  • Defined Contribution Plan
  • Target Benefit Pension Plan

 

The Committee only supports the Defined Benefit Pension Plan

 

Political Advocacy:

Under the direction of the 2014 AGM the Political Advocacy Committee undertook to meet its mandate to focus on the 2015 federal election by designing and writing an advocacy pamphlet and accompanying support documents. The theme of this pamphlet is WORKING TO ACHIEVE A CARING, CONSULTATIVE AND COMMITTED CANADIAN PARLIAMENT. Both the Communications and the Pensions Committees were involved.

wayne

Wayne Hughes, the new chair of Political Advocacy, speaks in July 2015:

Our AGM in June reaffirmed the need to “engage Members and their membership in the political process”.  In addition, our new brochure states “ACER-CART wants to ensure that each political party and its candidates are fully engaged in communications with seniors”.  AGM members were both excited and impressed with the work done by BCRTA entitled “BCRTA Seniors’ Issues for the 2015 Federal Election”.  Consequently, our President has met with BCRTA and asked for permission to use and share their well-researched and thoughtful document with ACER-CART members across Canada. At this stage we are simply asking that you “STAY TUNED” and watch for the final product and start to make plans for circulation to retired teachers across Canada.   Some provincial associations are planning a center fold pull out in their fall newsletter as the most cost effective way to circulate these ideas to their membership.

 

ACER-CART POSITIONS TAKEN:

 

  1. That the current Face book account be discontinued.
  2. That ACER-CART encourage Members to utilize social media to support communications regarding the political advocacy work that is intended for the October federal election.
  3. That Articles that refer to MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS be amended to state MEMBERS
  4. That ACER-CART become a partner with McMaster University in the “Optimal Aging Portal” project, and further that ACER-CART recommend the same to members.
  5. THAT ACER-CART lobby the federal government to take a leadership role and work with the provinces to ensure, through a national housing strategy, that affordable and supportive housing is available to all Canadians.

 

PROTOCOL 6: Cheque Signing Procedure:

 

  1. For purpose of advising the financial institution, the names of the signing officers will be determined at the post AGM executive meeting in accordance to article 2.07.
  2. For cheques of less than 2 000 $ only one signature is required.
  3. For cheques in excess of 2 000 $ two signatures are required.
  4. Cheques for reimbursements of expenses by the Executive Director will be signed by another signing officer.
  5. In the event that the cheque to the Executive Director is more than 2 000$ the ED may co-sign the cheque.

 

MEMBER REPORTS:

 

The ACER-CART members reported on the activities they have undertaken in their respective provinces and territory. There were many issues of common concern brought forward, especially in the areas of pensions and health care.

 

KUDOS:

 

  1. Recognition was paid to the assistance to ACER-CART by Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) staff (Lynne Richard and Samantha Perrin), and the financial support of Johnson Inc. (JI).

 

  1. The Friday night banquet at the Southway Hotel saw service awards presented to five departing delegates: June Szeman (RTO/ERO), Vaughn Wadelius (RTAM), Sonia Roy (SERFNB), George Georget (SAS) and Sheridyth MacNeill (PEIRTA). We thank them for the work done on behalf of the Association.

 

 

 

In addition, guests were treated to a presentation by Peggy Taillon, from the Canadian Council on Social Development. She is a passionate advocate for equality and social justice, a dynamic and compelling public speaker; she spoke on creating a strong, resilient, and caring nation that values the well-being and contributions of all its citizens.

 

 

 

PRESENTATIONS:

 

 

Cassandra Hallett DaSilva, Secretary General of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) brought greetings to the delegates at the ACER-CART AGM.

 

 

Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) Susan Eng, Vice-President, Advocacy spoke to the delegates about Seniors Vote. She spoke about the coalition of like-minded associations speaking about the same issues: housing, pensions, home care, pharmacare and pensions.

 

 

 

Richard Harrison, Senior Consultant with Johnson Inc., reviewed travel trends with the delegates. Canadians, especially retirees, are huge international travelers.

 

 

 

 

Richard offered the following:

  1. According to Statistics Canada, travel to the United States between October, 2013 and October, 2014 declined by 1.1% to 23.06 million overnight trips,
  2. For the same period, travel overseas increased by 8.5% to 10.35 million overnight trips,
  3. There have been notable increases in travel insurance premium rates across the broader marketplace, largely driven by changes in currency, particularly weakness in the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar,
  4. Some insurers are also implementing changes to policies and medical evidence requirements, with the objective of improving claims experience,
  5. Medical inflation and the impact of “Obamacare” are also both expected to have negative impact on the cost of travel insurance,
  6. The Conference Board of Canada reports that the majority of Canadians consumers prefer to purchase travel insurance in person or over the telephone.
  7. ACER-CART is most fortunate to be associated with Johnson Inc. (JI) not only for its financial contribution but also for its traditional presentation on a variety of issues/topics at its AGM.

 

A presentation by The National Association of Federal Retirees (NAFR-formerly FSNA) representative Sayward Montague: Working Together for Retirement Security. Seward spoke about the vision, the objective, the goals and the strategy of a Canadian Coalition for Retirement Security. Employers must honour the existing pension commitments to pensioners, veterans and employees. The Coalition is seeking Legislation that ensures public and private sector employers abide by their commitments to pensioners, veterans and employees.

 

 

THE 2015-2016 ACER-CART EXECUTIVE:

 

President:

JoAnn Lauber (BCRTA) New Westminster, BC

Vice-President:

Brian Kenny (RTO/ERO) Burlington, ON   Chair: Health Services and Insurance

Past President:

Dr. Thomas Gaskell (RTO-NSTU) Little Bras d’Or, NS Chair: Nominations and Elections

Regional Representatives, East:

Dr. James MacAuley (PEIRTA) St. Peter’s Bay, PE Chair: Pension and Retirement Income

Regional Representatives, Ontario:

Norbert Boudreau (RTO/ERO) Nepean, ON Chair: Communications

Regional Representatives, West:

Wayne Hughes (RTAM) Winnipeg, MB Chair: Political Advocacy

Executive Director:

Roger Régimbal, Gloucester, ON

Special Advisor:

Vaughn Wadelius, The Pas, MB

 

 

Priorities of ACER-CART 2015-2016:

 

  1. Continue to foster and engage in alliances that promote the goals, policies and values of ACER-CART.
  2. Employ effective advocacy strategies to amplify the voice of ACER-CART and engage Members and their membership in the political process.
  3. Develop a strategic plan.

 

The Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) / la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et enseignants (FCE) held its AGM at the Marriott Hotel in Ottawa on July 17 & 18, 2015. Norbert Boudreau, ACER-CART’s Ontario Regional Representative was in attendance.

 

CTF/FCE launched the Speak Truth to Power Canada with its partners, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Six of the twelve inspiring Canadian “defenders” of Human Rights were in attendance: Arthur Miki, best known for his work in seeking compensation for Japanese/Canadians interned during WWII, Remzi Cej, known for his commitment to social justice, Léonie Couture, for her dedication to the wellbeing of women and advocacy, Tim Thompson, known for his work on the damaging impacts of the residential school system, Jeremy Dias, known for his work at the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity and Rosemary Sadlier known for her work for Black History Month.

 

Heather Smith (NB) became the new President of CTF, replacing Diane Woloschuk.  Normand Gould (MB), Carol Jolin (ON), Gayla Meredith ((NWT) and Mark Ramsankar (AB) were elected by acclamation as CTF/FCE VPs.

 

Angelo Gavrielos, President of the Australian Education Union spoke about the privatisation of Public Education which is being sacrificed for the sake of economic interest. CTF/FCE will continue the discussion on this topic.

 

CTF/FCE Awards:

  • Special Recognition Award: Edward Hancock of the Newfoundland Teacher Association
  • Public Education Advocacy Award: Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada
  • Outstanding Aboriginal Education Award: Belinda Daniels of the Saskatchewan Teacher Federation.

 

Dr. Thomas Gaskel, ACER-CART’s Past President and Roger Régimbal, ACER-CART’s Executive Director attended The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) / l’Association médicale canadienne (AMC) conference in Newfoundland.

 

CMA Roundtable Addressing the Needs of Canada’s Aging Population

 

A report by Tom Gaskell

 

 

The meetings in St. John’s were hosted by the Canadian Medical Association and chaired by Dr. Chris Simpson, President. Co-hosting were the Canadian Association of Social Workers, represented by their Executive Director Fred Phelps. Dr. Patrick O’Shea, past president of the Newfoundland Medical Association was also at the head table.

 

Dr. Simpson opened the session, noting that we have over 5 million seniors in Canada, and that the city of St. John’s has almost 30% in the 45 – 64 age range, and expecting 20% to be over 65 within 9 years. As we continue to have a hospital-centric health system, while providing little support for home care and caregivers, we will continue to have some 15% of those in hospital who should not be there, compounding wait times and costing the system billions.

 

Fred Phelps, the CASW Executive Director emphasized the social determinants of health, i.e. suitable housing, an adequate income level, etc. as being critical to improving health standards. He stressed that for any national health strategy to be successful special emphasis must be on older women’s poverty. He also commented on the need for federal leadership while alluding to the fact that no meaningful meetings have been held on these issues since 2006.

 

Dr. O’Shea discussed some of the efforts undertaken in Newfoundland acknowledging that it still was not enough. He emphasized the need for a national Pharmacare program and better

Homecare, as well as a more “user friendly” way for seniors to access services.

 

Newfoundland Health Minister Clyde Jackman outlined some initiatives undertaken by his government, and at the same time recognized the need for more with his province having one of the highest percentage of seniors in Canada.

 

Kevin Pollard, Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Minister pointed out that countries with a strong health care system are doing well and said a sustainable health system must be a priority.

 

Paul Moist, CUPE National Chair, talked about the plight of home care workers in various parts of Canada and the need to examine this entire service. If we are going to have meaningful home care, we need to examine why we have workers in one province being paid $11 an hour and $20 in another.

 

Other speakers pointed out examples from specialized areas, i.e. the representative of the Diabetes Association pointed out that 57% of diabetics were not taking necessary medications largely due to costs! Another pointed to the “corporatization” of long term care, etc.

 

While the larger than expected gathering did not allow for all gathered to speak, I did take the opportunity to comment on some of the issues. I emphasized our position that all levels of government must “reorganize to transcend jurisdictional issues” (Sen. Carstairs). While I suggested that while at times it may appear that we are hollering down a well, we must continue our efforts to improve our system.

 

After the session I did take time to thank Dr. Simpson, and the CMA for continuing to stir the pot and creating an awareness of what is possible if we work together. Politicians checking their values at the door will no longer be acceptable. Dr. Simpson agreed that while we cannot expect our politicians to lead, if we have everyone going in the same direction they will eventually have to get out front, and pretend to be leading.

 

While the conference was very interesting, more time would have been appreciated to allow more present to present and discuss various issues.

 

Vaughn Wadelius remains on the executive as a special advisor:

 

At the request of President JoAnn Lauber and the 2015-2016 executive, Vaughn Wadelius, from The Pas, Manitoba, long-time member of ACER-CART has graciously accepted “to help out in an advisory capacity”. Vaughn has served the association as Webmaster and as President.

 

Visit the new ACER-CART Website at www.acer-cart.org. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

I trust that you will find this summer edition of OPTIONS informative. Do have a great and relaxing summer.

 

Add to your calendar:

 

2016 ACER-CART AGM: June 3 & 4, 2016

 

ACER-CART will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at the June 2016 AGM

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