Summer 2013 Newsletter

2013 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 

ACER-CART’s 22nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on May 31and June 1, 2013 in the Ottawa office of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). Twenty-six participants from twelve of the thirteen member organizations were in attendance, regrets having been sent by Ken Nash, Yukon Retired Teachers Alumni.

On Wednesday, May 30, prior to the AGM, delegates met at the Marriott Hotel to participate in pre-AGM activities that included a meeting of the Executive Committee, an opportunity for a meeting of representatives within the three ACER-CART regions, an orientation session presented by Vaughn Wadelius for new directors, and a provocative presentation on pensions prepared by the Pension and Retirement Income Committee, James MacAulay, Chair, (PEIRTA) and Gerry Tiede (BCRTA).

In the pensions session, Gerry referred to the myths that are commonly used in attacks on public pension plans. He shared national and regional data to dispel the myths, illustrating the real value of pension plans to society, and presenting some of the successful BCRTA initiatives. The delegates determined to find ways to work together to promote the benefits of defined benefits pension plans and agreed to approach the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) for help in coordinating a nation-wide campaign.

On Friday, when the participants gathered for the AGM, they received reports from the Executive officers, the standing committees and the political advocacy ad hoc committee. Issues emanating included the following:

  1. Approval for ACER-CART to endorse the “Principles to Guide Health Care Transformation in Canada” and a recommendation that Member Associations consider similar endorsement, the principles of the “Guide” being, an emphasis on a patient-centered health care system, health promotion practices, equitable access to health care, sustainability through adequate resources and effective delivery, and accountability.
  2. A decision to support “Hear My Voice”, a CTF initiative urging that Government practice greater transparency, heed the voices of Canadians concerned about the state of democracy in Canada, and refrain from attacks on unions such as those in Bill C-377.

2013 AGM-VOICE - small

Pictured:

Dr Thomas Gaskell, President ACER-CART;
Francine Fillon, Director of Communications, CTF;
Dr. Calvin Fraser, Secretary General, CTF.

 

Policy was added to direct the political advocacy activities of the Association, and the decision was made for the ad hoc Political Advocacy Committee to continue for 2013 – 2014. It was decided also that when issues arise and member organizations are encouraged to support ACER-CART advocacy actions, enabling resources, including background information and argumentation, be provided.

  1. Upon the recommendations of a report reviewing the need for a Reserve Fund, approval was given for the growth of the Reserve Fund to a minimum of $42,000 and for ACER-CART funds to be invested in conservative and stable instruments.The AGM serves as an opportunity for its member organizations to report on the activities they undertake in their respective provinces and territories and to discuss issues of concern. Common themes emerging from the 2013 member reports included the following:
    • The challenges of advocating for members with respect to health care and poverty issues;
    • The attacks on pensions and the significant loss of purchasing power as retirees fail to receive a full, or even partial, annual cost of living increase;
    • Lack of representation on boards of directors that have control over retiree health plans, pension plans, insurance plans; and
    • The need for the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments to negotiate a new Health Accord that would include adequate funding as well as a national pharmaceutical program and formulary, a long-term national plan for home care, and affordable and accessible housing.

2013 AGM Delegates-small
Executive, Directors and Observers at the 2012 AGM

The following were declared elected ACER-CART Officers for 2013-14:  

  • President: Dr. Thomas Gaskell (RTO-NSTU) from Little Bras d’Or, NS
  • Vice-President: JoAnn Lauber (BCRTA) from New Westminster, BC
  • Past President: Vaughn Wadelius (RTAM) from The Pas, MB

The three Regional Representatives:

  • Region East: James MacAuley (PEIRTA) from St. Peter’s Bay, PEI
  • Ontario: Brian Kenny (RTO/ERO) from Dryden, ON
  • Region West: George Georget (STS) from Saskatoon, SK

ACER-CART is grateful for the fine leadership of Roger Régimbal from Gloucester, ON, who continues in the role of Executive Director; for the secretarial assistance of CTF support staff person Lynne Richard; and for the services of Debbie McCarthy, CTF Financial Manager.

We enjoy the generosity of CTF, which enables us to hold our AGM in Ottawa in a spacious and comfortable meeting room; and we take pleasure in a bountiful Friday barbeque lunch, kindly provided for us also by CTF. We are grateful as well to Johnson Inc for their long-standing support, this year, granting financial assistance to help us operate as a viable organization.

The Saturday morning guest presenter was Richard Harrison, Senior Consultant with Johnson Inc. Mr. Harrison briefly reviewed the history and guiding principles of Johnson Inc, and he referred to the announcement by Government that health care transfer funds after 2017 would be decreased. He stated that as federal funding decreases, there might be less pressure to comply with the principles of the Canada Health Care Act (1984). Among the ways the system might deal with the disparity between the capacity of our economy to pay for health costs and the rise in health costs, he suggested, could involve increases in health premiums, changing definitions of comprehensive care, the redesign of services by institutions, delisting of services, and supplemental insurance.  

Priorities:

The following priorities were chosen to drive ACER-CART action in 2013–14: 

  1. Enhance ACER-CART political advocacy through its member associations and by collaborating with like-minded organizations on issues of common concern;
  2. Urge the Federal Government, Provinces and Territories to negotiate a new, strengthened Health Accord to replace the present Accord expiring in 2014;
  3. Support the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in their campaign to have Government listen to our voices; and
  4. Seek to establish a cross-country approach to preserving and protecting defined benefit pension plans.

Other ACER-CART Positions Taken:
 Motions were passed also directing the Association to the following actions:

  1. Pursue re-registration under the new Industry Canada Corporation requirements for not-for-profit organizations;
  2. Support the inclusion of the cost of Medic Alert /Life-Line programs as an allowable medical tax deduction for income tax purposes;
  3. Continue to advocate that the Federal Government implement a publicly funded Pharmacare Plan;
  4. Urge Provincial and Territorial Governments in Canada to develop plans to expand and improve Seniors Home Care programs and Seniors Home Support Programs that will assist seniors to remain in their homes;
  5. Investigate Health Canada’s actions that limit access to health products and supplements that are beneficial to seniors and citizens at large; and
  6. Approach CTF-FCE to establish a joint initiative addressing “Teacher Pension Myths”.

The Friday Banquet  

Activities:
This year, once again, the Banquet activities were a resounding success, with several participants becoming the lucky recipients of one of the inimitable “door prizes” created and presented by Vaughn Wadelius.

Service Awards:
The following Directors were presented with the 2013 Service Awards in recognition of their contribution to ACER-CART:  Patricia McCardle (PEIRTA), Renate Sutherland (QPARSE/APPERQ), and Leo Normandeau (RTO/ERO).

Committee Chairs for 2013 – 2014 are as follows:

Political Advocacy ~ George Georget
Pension and Retirement Income ~ James MacAulay
Nominations and Elections ~ Vaughn Wadelius
Legislation ~ Vaughn Wadelius
Health Services and Insurance ~ Brian Kenny
Communications ~ JoAnn Lauber

Regions are encouraged to invite members of the Executive to visit their organizations.

 

A Message from President Dr. Thomas Gaskell 

Gaskell-ThomasFellow Retirees,

First, a sincere thank you to all who allowed me to work for another year on behalf of retirees and seniors generally. I would also like to thank all who worked and participated to make our AGM a success. As President, I am the first to realize that without you, we are unable to accomplish any of our objectives, but together we can make a difference.

During the past few months I have expressed my high level of frustration in attempting to have Government made aware of the concerns that we as an organization feel important: concerns with regard to health care, pensions, the free trade talks, the pending health accord, and so on. I felt that the “form” responses from the “Department Correspondence Unit”, “Income Security. . . ” were sound indicators of a “deaf ear” being given to our various efforts to communicate. However, the events of the past weeks surrounding the frustrations of individual members on the Government side of the House, the recent stand of a member of the Senate who has voiced grave concerns of measures put forth by his Party as well as Government supporters, lead me to conclude that the pressure exerted by our organization, by CTF, and other like minded organizations are, in fact, having an effect. The Government appears to realize that “Wait until Daddy gets home” (2015) is not an idle threat. The time to pay heed is now –if they wish to avoid a “spanking” at the polls.

That said, I emphasize my comments to our AGM. We must continue, and indeed, increase our efforts, to have our voice heard on priority issues. These issues that we have agreed on must be kept in front of our MPs and MLAs if we wish to help bring about change:

First, the new Health Accord. The recommendations we endorsed in the ” Principles to Guide Health Care in Canada”, jointly sponsored by the CMA and the CNA, provide excellent information, and when combined with the five basic principles of the “Canada Health Act”, give plenty of background for those developing position papers for presentations to our elected representatives.

Second, the need for a pan-Canadian effort re defined benefit pension plans. The need for a united effort by like-minded organizations to preserve and protect these plans was alluded to

many times during the course of our deliberations. The excellent presentation by BCRTA’s Jerry Tiede prompted a great deal of discussion and created a heightened sense of concern.

Two documents now in the hands of ACER-CART attendees provide excellent resources: “Principles to Guide” health care reform, as well as the two documents generously shared by VP JoAnn, “The Top Ten…” pension funds and the positive impact they have on the Canadian economy. These resources are posted under “Articles” on the homepage of our website: (acer-cart.org). Using these resources and working, and I emphasize, ” everybody working together “, we can be somewhat more optimistic that our pressure combined with that of other like-minded groups will influence positive change in improving the quality of life for all Canadians.

As you plan various efforts in your regions, please keep our Regional Reps aware so that we can help provide assistance in coordinating / supplementing what is being done locally to make our work more effective. If our efforts at the national level can dovetail with provincial efforts, we can be more productive. The fight goes on.

With the AGM still fresh in my memory I want to again thank Ed Zegray for his dedication and service to ACER-CART.  I also want to welcome our new Vice President, JoAnn Lauber, and our new Region West Representative, George Georget. A final shout out to Vaughn Wadelius, who acted as parliamentarian and all round adviser.

In conclusion, thank you, and I look forward to another challenging year.

Tom

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