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Options Newsletter: Summer 2012

2012 Annual General Meeting
ACER-CART’s 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on June 1-2, 2012. It was preceded on Thursday, May 31 by Executive Committee and regional meetings, an orientation session for new directors presented by Past President Vaughn Wadelius, and a pre-AGM discussion of ACER-CART organizational structure, all held at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel.

On Friday, participants from 12 of the 13 member organizations gathered for the AGM at the Ottawa office of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). There they addressed various reports and resolutions presented by the Executive and member associations.  Delegates shared ideas, reported on the activities of their associations since the 2011 AGM, and set priorities for the coming year.

Guest presenters were Lori MacDonald-Blundon, Senior Consultant for Johnson Inc, and Dr. Jeff Turnbull, Past President of the Canadian Medical Association. Speaking about “Benefit Plans and Government Coverage, a National Perspective”, Ms. MacDonald-Blundon reviewed the history and guiding principles of Johnson Inc and the key elements of a benefit program. She also addressed the issue of changes in health care transfers to provinces and their possible effects on the principles of the Canada Health Care Act (1984). Dr. Turnbull addressed the delegates and guests on the need for better health care for all Canadians and better value for our health dollars. He stressed the need for organizations such as ACER-CART to support the kind of change necessary to transform health care delivery and to fix Medicare.

2012 AGM Delegates-sm


Executive, Directors and Observers at the 2012 AGM

ACER-CART Officers for 2012-13
Regretfully, Arnold Hull, ACER-CART President 2011 – 2012, resigned from his position effective June 30, and as a result, changes were made in the By-laws to allow for the selection of a person to serve as Past President for the coming term.   The following were elected as officers for 2012 – 13:
President: Dr. Thomas Gaskell (RTO-NSTU) from Little Bras d’Or, NS
Vice-President: Ed Zegray (QART) from Montréal, QC
Past President:  Vaughn Wadelius (RTAM) from The Pas, MB

The three Regional Representatives elected are:
East: James MacAuley (PEIRTA) from St. Peter’s Bay, PEI;
Ontario: Brian Kenny (RTO/ERO) from Dryden, ON
West: JoAnn Lauber (BCRTA) from New Westminster, BC

Effective July 1, 2012 Roger Regimbal from Gloucester, ON assumed the role of Executive Director, with secretarial assistance provided by CTF support staff person Lynne Richard, and financial management by CTF’s Debbie McCarthy. Roger replaces Norbert Boudreau who, after years of much appreciated dedication to the organization, has left the position of ACER-CART Executive Director to serve as Vice-President of the Retired Teachers of Ontario.

Political Advocacy and Priorities
The AGM approved the Executive recommendation that an ad hoc political advocacy committee be established in 2012 – 2013, to be chaired by the Vice-President, and to provide assistance, advice, and guidance in achieving ACER-CART goals. Whether or not it might become a standing committee, based on its helpfulness and efficacy, will be determined within a year or two.

ACER-CART advocacy priorities originate in several ways: by formal relationships with other groups and by AGM resolutions, which are presented by the Executive Committee, association members and the standing committees. The committees develop reports that review their advocacy efforts on behalf of ACER-CART and  recommend action for AGM consideration.

Report Summaries

Report from President Arnold Hull
The President reviewed his goals for the 2010 – 2011 year and outlined the many ways in which he worked to  improve communications and to advocate on the behalf of retired teachers across the nation. His President’s correspondence file, a testament to his effort and commitment, is huge and comprehensive; and his briefs and reports, well researched and thoughtful. Arnold has served us well; we thank him for that dedicated service and wish him well in his future travels and in his pursuit of relaxation and rejuvenation.

 Brief Presented to the Standing Committee on Finance: Dealing with the 2013 Pre Budget Consultation
The meeting approved the brief prepared by President Arnold Hull for submission to the Federal Standing Committee on Finance.  The brief speaks of ACER-CART’s support for the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act (1984), and requests the institution of a national pharmacare program and national drug formulary, as well as the establishment of a long-term national plan for home care as an integral part of the health care services.

Report from the Executive (President Arnold Hull, Chair)
The 2011 Pre-AGM Strategic Planning Session gave rise to several organizational issues, and it was requested that the Executive Committee study these and make suggestions. The Executive recommended, and the meeting approved, the following By-Law changes:

1. The position of Vice-President would be one separate from that of Regional Representative;
2. A change in Regional representation would result in three rather than four areas:
– NL, PEI, NB, NS, and QC; Ontario; and West – MB, SK, AB, BC, and the YK; and
3. Added to the description the Board position of “the Immediate Past President” were the words “or the person named to replace the Immediate Past President”.

Article changes included a change to the responsibilities of the Retirement Income Committee, namely, that the Committee would prepare for the Executive reports related to pension and retirement concerns. Changes were made also to allow for any retired teacher member of a provincial or territorial association of retired teachers, nominated by the member’s association, to be eligible for election as an officer; and that in the event that a person seeking election to the office of president or Vice-President is unsuccessful in his or her election, that person has the right to let his or her name stand for the office of Vice-President or regional representative.

Communications Committee (Ed Zegray, Chair)
The organization’s source of communication and information, the ACER-CART website continues to be updated. It is widely accessed by users (2500+ visits per month), and features briefs to government, the ACER-CART newsletter OPTIONS, and photo slide shows of the AGM. A photo and the biography of every Past President can be located on the website’s History page. Unlinked pages, the Directors’ exclusive website pages,provide access to the Executive Director’s Quarterly Reports, Executive conference call summaries, and prior to the meeting in Ottawa, AGM documents. A “News From the Regions” section was started on the main page; submissions from the member organizations would be greatly appreciated.

Newsletter: Two editions of OPTIONS, for the use of Directors and editors of member association publications, were produced in 2011-2012. The first newsletter was devoted mainly to AGM news.  A winter edition was published in December.  The Communications Committee expressed appreciation to member organizations for the links on their websites to ACER-CART and for references made to ACER-CART in their newsletters.

Health Services and Insurance Committee (Dean McMullen, Chair)
This report discusses concerns regarding the shortcomings of the Canadian Health Care System in meeting the five core principles of the Canada Health Act (1984), and it references two additional principles advocated by the Canadian Medical Association: that the health care system be “patient-centered” and “sustainable”. The Committee emphasizes that these two new principles can be interpreted as supporting more “private” participation in our health care system. On the basis of research and analysis, and from the perspective of what matters most to retired teachers and other seniors as they interact with health care providers across Canada, the Committee recommends several courses of action. These recommendations were approved by the delegates and listed for action among the “ACER-CART Positions Taken”.

Legislative Committee (Vaughn Wadelius, Chair)
In 2011, two new policies were added to the manual: “Performance Appraisal of the Executive Director” and “Non-contribution of Membership Fee”.  Several proposed amendments to the By-Laws and Articles were identified for presentation to the 2012 AGM. They are outlined in the Report from the Executive Committee.

Pension and Retirement Income Committee (Dr. Thomas Gaskell, Chair)
The report states that with government pension plans, individual private or public sector pensions, part time employment, investments such as bonds, and the Tax Free Savings Accounts, seniors can enjoy a decent life; but many, including retired teachers, are among the 3 million Canadian people living in poverty. Because of their commitment to nurturing families and their lower average salaries, women are many of those with low retirement income.  By 2031, women will outnumber men by 50% in the 80+-age bracket.

Thomas Gaskell’s report outlines several factors that are jeopardizing the financial independence of future retirees. There are the imminent changes to OAS eligibility, the failure of companies such as Air Canada to match employee contributions to their pension plans, and the “blame” often ascribed to seniors because their improved longevity is perceived to be placing a burden on the next generations. Referring to Jack Layton’s Speaking Out Louder, Gaskell notes that the Investment Review Division of Industry Canada approved every application enabling 10,052 takeovers of Canadian companies by foreign investors, and it is expected that few will be setting up pension plans. In fact, the establishment of defined benefit plans seems almost impossible in the future. Contributing also to financial uncertainty for retirees is the fact that tax breaks are given to certain people and corporations, while little improvement is legislated for those on fixed income. The report also refers to the dissension within the departments dealing with the CPP and employment insurance, not what we want to hear about a body that sets the destiny for our CPP funds.

The report concludes by stating that ACER-CART has very limited research, financial and human resources to extend required assistance to its provincial organizations.  However, there is a need to monitor government announcements and possible legislative changes as they affect pensions, and our route here may be to work with like-minded organizations in an effort to understand government proposals and to recommend coordinated actions to member organizations.

To protect retirement income security we must have a willingness to act, for we can effect change.  Collective and individual efforts are important.

Report from Congress of National Seniors’ Organizations,  Arnold Hull, ACER-CART representative
A single teleconference meeting was held on March 2, 2012; and since no communication regarding future organizational activity was forthcoming from President Sylvia Caesar, continuation of fee payment by ACER-CART was deemed unwarranted.  A motion was passed directing the Executive members of CNSO to initiate the process of dissolving CNSO and to request the disbursement of the assets according to any existing policies.

Other ACER-CART Positions Taken
Motions were passed at the 2012 AGM directing the organization

  • to review the policy regarding the Reserve Fund, and to present a balanced budget for 2013 – 14;
  •  to establish a two tier model for the 2012-13 ACER-CART fee: Associations having fewer than 20,000 members, 35 cents  a member; and Associations having more than 20,000 members, 25 cents a member;
  • to develop a statement of principles relating to insurance services believed to be of value to ACER-CART members;
  • to lobby the Government of Canada to
    a.      enhance pension benefits (OAS, GIS, CPP/QPP);
    b.      establish a relationship that will assure consultation with ACER-CART in advance of any further
    amendments to federal pension plans;
    c.      express opposition to raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security;
    d.      compensate, through the taxation system, the surviving spouse who, when filing income tax, is not
    in a position to take advantage of such provisions as pension splitting, property ownership sharing,
    and allocation of charitable contributions or medical expenses as ways of reducing taxable income;
    e.      make the transfer of health care funds to provinces and territories contingent upon assurance that
    the funds are used to support the provisions of the Canada Health Act; and to
    f.       ensure the adequate supply of all necessary pharmaceuticals, diagnostic materials and injectable drugs,
    including vaccines.

Motions were passed at the 2012 AGM asking member associations to assist ACER-CART in lobbying the appropriate level of government.

  1. On the issue of the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and its potentially
    negative impact on the principles of the Canada Health Act, education, pension and water rights; and further
    b.      to establish a national Medicare Oversight Council, independent of government, that would monitor the
    implementation and maintenance of national standards of health services provided under the Canada Health Act,
    and where advisable, propose new ones;
    c.      to develop a national pharmaceutical program and a national pharmaceutical formulary;
    d.      to develop and implement a recycling program for unused pharmaceuticals;
    e.      to establish and operate a national organ and tissue donor registry; and
    f.       to ensure that:
  • continuing care is an essential component of any health care program;
  • continuing care, long term care, and palliative care be subject to enforceable ‘standards of care’ set out in government regulations
  • such care be provided at a reasonable cost whether in a public or private facility;
  • the contributions of unpaid caregivers’ needs be appropriately recognized; and
  • adequate mental health services including cognitive impairment conditions be provided both in the community and appropriate facilities.

ACER-CART serves its members well as it lobbies on the national scene to address the issues and interests of retired educators and all older Canadians. In the words of an ACER-CART director, “It is a great organization, indispensable for teacher retirees and their provincial organizations.” (Benoit, RTAM) The concerns of the ACER-CART member organizations are common:

  •  access to good and affordable public health care (support for the preservation of the Health Care Act principles of universality, access, comprehensiveness, portability and public administration);
  • support for a national drug plan and a national drug formulary;
  • affordability and accessibility of adequate housing and long term care;
  • financial security of pensions and benefits, and the need for fair pension indexation;
  • safety and security; and
  • the freedom to pursue our goals in dignity as socially active citizens.

For ACER-CART members to pursue these goals in concert strengthens our voice; any good results we achieve benefit all seniors in Canada. Communicating directly with our provincial and federal political leaders, member organizations — and that includes all of our branch members– can take pride in having played an active role in supporting ACER-CART’s 20011/12 priorities, which reflect the needs and concerns of retired educators and all older Canadians.

2012-13 President Thomas Gaskell

Gaskell-Thomas“As your newly elected President, I have promised to make every effort to maintain the high level of commitment demonstrated by previous executives. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working for all retired teachers and retirees generally.

For those who are unaware of who I am, a brief bio. I come from Cape Breton, NS. I am a coal miner’s son, married to a coal miner’s daughter. We have two grown children, one a teacher. I have been active in union affairs as a teacher as well as while in administration. I retired in ’91-’92, and have been active in our RTO/NSTU having served two terms as president. Previously with ACER-CART I have served as Reg. Atlantic and V.P.

At the conclusion of our AGM, I made some comments regarding the year ahead.

The first regarded an extended opportunity for representatives of member organizations, Presidents and elected ACER-CART delegates, to have input re the Standing Committees. If you feel you would like to have input, offer suggestions, etc. please contact the Chair. Your input is requested and appreciated. Some of the committees and the Chairs are as follows: Communications, JoAnn Lauber; Health and Insurance, Brian Kenny; Pensions and Retirement, James McAulay; and ad hoc Political Advocacy, Ed Zegray.

The second point was that we as an Executive of five cannot carry out the full responsibilities of the Organization. To be successful, especially in areas that require personal contacts with MLAs and/or MPs, or other target groups, we must have your help. To that end, as we prepare presentations that would benefit from personal contact, we will provide you with copies. This will keep you aware of our efforts and enable you to direct your appropriate committee or Executive to provide the extremely important follow-up contact.

We have a year that can be exciting as well as productive. I urge you to continue your active interest in the many worthwhile objectives of your ACER-CART organization. Together we can make it work – for the benefit of retired teachers and seniors of Canada.

Let’s have a good year!”

Other News

On October 10 – 11, 2012 representatives of the four Atlantic Provinces will meet to discuss common interests in Moncton, NB, in a Conference of Retired Teachers of the Atlantic Provinces Organizations (CAPTRO). It is the second of its kind to be held for the Atlantic region.  Representatives from the ACER-CART organizations in Quebec will be part of this conference this year. A session on advocacy is planned.  Ed Zegray, ACER-CART ad hoc Advocacy Committee Chair, will be in attendance.

From September 28 – 30, 2012, ACER-CART delegates of Zone West will be in attendance at the BCRTA Fall conference.  Vaughn Wadelius, Past President, will speak of the value of ACER-CART to approximately 150 delegates who will be in attendance. ACER-CART representatives from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and tentatively, from Manitoba, and the Yukon, also will attend to discuss issues of mutual concern and to meet with the BCRTA Advocacy Committee to discuss the possibility of a common advocacy strategy.

Arnold Hull, ACER-CART 2011-2012 President, will speak about ACER –CART at the Biennial Convention of the Retired Teachers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador in early October 2012.

The 2012 Service Award Recipients are listed below.

Richard Benoit (RTAM), Norbert Boudreau (Executive Director), Arnold Hull (RTO/ERO), Dean McMullen (ARTA), Joan Murphy (RTO/ERO), Geraldine Wall (RTANL)