History of ACER-CART

The founding of The Canadian Association of Retired Teachers (ACER-CART) was the result of inter-provincial support and encouragement on the part of retired and active teacher associations across Canada. Thanks are due to all those individuals who shared the vision of a national association of retired teachers and who actively contributed time and effort to make it a reality.

Among the early key supporters were Marshall Sinclair Wark (BCRTA), Elsie McMurphy (BCTF), Robert Buzza (BCTF), Lillian Holeton (BCRTA), Sheena Hanley (CTF), and Dr. Stirling McDowell (CTF).

The first tentative step in the development of a national retired teachers association began in 1984 when M. S. Wark, then First Vice-President of the BC Retired Teachers Association, initiated a survey of other provincial retired teacher associations to determine the services they offered to their members. So little was known about these organizations that contact had to be established through the active teacher organizations of the respective provinces. Compiling a list of phone numbers and addresses was the start to developing a communication link among them.

In 1985 the Canadian Teachers’ Federation was contacted for an opinion about the development of a national association of retired teacher associations, but it was not until 1987 at a Solidarity Rally in Victoria, BC (organized to protest government policies on education) that direct contact with the CTF President elicited interest in the proposal of a national association.

When Sheena Hanley assumed the presidency of CTF later that year, she responded positively to the idea and a meeting with Dr. Stirling McDowell (Secretary General of CTF) was held January 2, 1988 at the office of the BCRTA. A plan resulted to call a national conference of provincial retired teacher associations to consider areas of common interest and a possible constitution. Reasons for the formation of a national association were clarified. A meeting in Ottawa was planned for 1989. One immediate drawback was the cost of a national conference. CTF was not financially able to support this venture but, nevertheless, invitations to attend were sent to all provincial retired teacher associations.

With the exception of only two provinces, all the provincial RTAs sent and funded their representatives to this inaugural meeting held in Ottawa in June 1989. Five objectives of a national association were formulated. It was also agreed that members of the national body would be the provincial associations of retired teachers, not individual teachers.  The conference participants agreed to distribute the five objectives to the various retired teachers’ associations for ratification. The resulting replies were most encouraging!

FOUNDING MEETING – June 15,1991 at the CTF in Ottawa

In attendance:

  • British Columbia Retired Teachers Association, Marshall Sinclair Wark
  • Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan, McGregor “Mac” Hone
  • Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba, Valdine Johnson
  • Superannuated Teachers of Ontario, Lyle Harkin, Rosemarie Edwards
  • Association des retraitées et retraits d’enseignment du Québec, Léo Coté
  • Provincial Association of Catholic Retired Teachers, Ronald Frauley
  • Provincial Association of Protestant Retired Teachers, Bill Munro
  • Retired Teachers Association of Nova Scotia, Allison Dalton
  • Prince Edward Island Retired Teachers’ Association, Winnifred Cutcliffe
  • Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Stirling McDowell

Consensus reached at this 1991 meeting:

  • Name– The Canadian Association of Retired Teachers
  • Membership– provincial associations of retired teachers
  • Board of Directors– one representative from each provincial member organization
  • Executive – a president, vice-president, and secretary to be selected at each
    national meeting
  • Membership fee– set at $0.25 per member of the provincial association, with a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $300.
  • Objectives – five objectives were developed in 1989.


  1. To facilitate and promote liaison and mutual assistance between and among Member organizations
  2. To promote the interests of its member organizations
  3. To develop strategies for joint action on matters of common concern to member organizations
  4. To cooperate with other seniors’ organizations on matters of common concern
  5. To promote excellence in education in Canada.

First executive of CART:

  • President Marshall Sinclair Wark – BCRTA.
  • Vice-President Léo Coté – AREQ (Quebec)
  • Secretary Mac Hone – STS

CTF graciously agreed to provide CART with some printing, accounting and secretarial services as well as facilities for holding meetings. CTF also contributed a $2000 grant to aid the organization, and the B.C.T.F. granted $500 as well.

1992 National Meeting

At the national meeting of CART held in Ottawa on June 13, 1992 all but two of the provincial retired teacher associations were represented. Stirling McDowell’s offer to serve the national body voluntarily as an Executive Director when he retired as CTF Secretary General in 1993 was enthusiastically received. Among the other decisions reached at this meeting, with delegates representing 50,000 retired teachers of the provincial member associations, were:

  1. An exchange of provincial R.T.A. newsletters
  2. Consideration of establishing a CART newsletter
  3. Development of a draft statement of policy
  4. Development of a constitution and bylaws
  5. Contact and possible liaison with a Canadian seniors’ network
  6. Agreement with the original five objectives
  7. Officers of CART would consist of a president, two vice-presidents, and the immediate past president who would serve for one year following the presidency.

21st Century AGMs:

ACER-CART has continued to meet annually in June at the CTF headquarters in Ottawa.

2003 – Additional work was done to the constitution and bylaws. A system of three Regional Directors was adopted (Atlantic, Central, Western) for the executive, one of whom would be selected as the vice-president.

2004 – Efforts were taken to liaise with national seniors organizations on common issues, such as the development of a federal seniors secretariat.  It was also decided to pay a stipend to the Executive Director.

2005 – AGM named the president as a representative to the Congress of National Seniors Organizations (CNSO), adopted the official logo, and selected the name OPTIONS for the ACER-CART newsletter. A variety of resolutions were adopted that supported pension splitting, advocating a national prescription drug agency to control costs and ensure quality, and various other tax deduction improvements for seniors.

2006 – Further work was done at the AGM on the ACER-CART bylaws as part of an initiative to become incorporated. In addition, targets were set for achieving charitable status, membership in the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, and in the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

2007 – Incorporation was achieved, and the number of regions was increased to four, with Ontario and Quebec each forming regions of their own. The term Regional Director was changed to Regional Representative. As well, the Yukon Retired Teachers Alumni was added to Region West.

2008 – Several resolutions were adopted on the theme of support for a national drug care formulary, and for the appointment of an ombudsman for seniors. Property tax protection for seniors was another focus.

2009 – Affirmation of the development of the approved Bylaws, Articles and Policies into a Director’s Handbook; encouragement of the organization’s bilingual communications; support of the executive regional liaison; and setting of lobbying goals regarding financial and health support for seniors, and Canada’s national radio services.

2010 – Preceded by a seminar on lobbying, the 2010 AGM reiterated its support for efforts to safeguard the Canadian health care system, improve the federal pension plans, and save seniors from poverty and investment fraud. Direction was also given to support higher tax deductions for charitable donations and to initiate the protection of the ACER-CART logo.

2011 – AGM was an occasion to celebrate our 20 year anniversary with a focus on our past presidents. A pre-AGM seminar began a process of organizational review of our structure, budget and services. The withdrawal of AREQ as a member was received with regret.

Resolutions passed requested lobbying of the federal government on issues related to the principles of the Canada Health Act, taxes on CPP/QPP death benefits, the extension of passports to a 10 year term, a tax credit for seniors enrolled in wellness/recreation programs, and the establishment of a national drug formulary.

2012 – Changes were made to the By-Laws and Articles to reconfigure the executive. The Vice-President position was freed up for a direct election, and the regions were reduced from four to three. Resolutions directed ACER-CART to advocate the development of a national pharmacare program; a national pharmaceutical formulary; a recycling program for unused pharmaceuticals; a national organ and tissue donor registry; and to advocate continuing care as a component of the national health plans. Concerns for the national pension programs were raised. An ad hoc political advocacy committee was also established for the year, and a two-tier membership fee was introduced to improve financial stability.

2013 – Reports were received on the progress for Bylaw changes (approved), and a review of the Reserve Fund that saw targets set for its size and use. The ad hoc political advocacy committee was established for another year with a policy that provides a framework for its focus. Resolutions passed advocated a more involved lobbying process, to investigate possible use of social media in our efforts, allowing medical deductions for Medic Alert costs, government study and improvements for housing options for seniors, and pharmacare programs. The AGM also supported the Canadian Teachers Federation’s “Hear My Voice” campaign on Canadians’ rights in democratic involvement.

2014 – Seminars on lobbying, collaboration with active teachers, and the use of social media preceded the 2014 AGM that made Political Advocacy a standing committee, directed the publishing of a new brochure to facilitate ACER-CART advocacy, endorsed basic beliefs regarding Canadian health care, advocated the negotiation of a new national health accord, and supported the Canadian Medical Association’s “Choosing Wisely Canada” campaign to reduce medical costs. As well, the AGM encouraged its members to use all candidate forums during the next federal election, and to work together to address the shortage of geriatricians and gerontologists.

2015 – In preparation for a federal election, a seminar on ACER-CART relevant issues was held. Representatives of the federal political parties were invited to respond individually to these. The Liberal, NDP and Green parties did so, while the Conservative party declined. At the AGM, various political advocacy initiatives were approved, further collaboration with Members and other outside groups on seniors’ issues was advocated, and lobbying targets for addressing Members of Parliament determined. A new flexible website design was introduced for implementation in the Fall.

2016 – Delegates worked at updating the strategic plan which was then approved by the AGM. The various AGM reports were evidence of a very successful year especially in political advocacy during the 2015 federal election, and in cooperation with various other organizations in the area of health issues: a national seniors’ health care strategy, a national drug care plan, and support for a renegotiated Canada Health Act. As this was ACER-CART’s 25th anniversary, special attention was paid to this event via a commemorative booklet and special guests invited to the annual banquet.

Original History Documents

History of ACER-CART 1984-1993

Presidents of ACER-CART

 1991 – 1992   Marshall Wark         +   BCRTA
 1992 – 1994   Mac Hone                +   STS
 1994 – 1996   William Jones   STO/ERO
 1996 – 1997   Stirling McDowell   +   STS
 1997 – 1998   Bruce Watson         +   BCRTA
 1998 – 1999   Maxwell Mullett      +   RTANL
 1999 – 2001   Murray Smith         +   RTAM
 2001 – 2003   Floyd Sweet           +   ARTA
 2003 – 2005   Val Alcock              +   RTO/ERO
 2005 – 2007   Pat Brady               +   BCRTA
 2007 – 2009   Helen Biales   RTO/ERO
 2009 – 2011   Vaughn Wadelius   RTAM
 2011 – 2012   Arnold Hull  RTO/ERO
 2012 – 2014   Thomas Gaskell  RTO-NSTU
 2014 – 2016   JoAnn Lauber  BCRTA
 2016 – 2018   Brian Kenny  RTOERO
 2018 – 2020   Bill Berryman  RTO/NSTU
 2020 – 2022   Gerry Tiede  BCRTA
 2022 – 2023   Martin Higgs  RTOERO

 ACER-CART Executive Directors

  1989 – 2001   Stirling McDowell       +
  2002 – 2004   Robert Barker
  2004 – 2008   Pierre Drouin
  2009 – 2012   Norbert Boudreau
  2012 –   Roger Régimbal

Deceased +

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