Connie Jervis – A Teacher’s Courage

Look for the remarkable story of Connie Jervis and the teachers of Langley in the upcoming Fall 2018 issue of PostScript Magazine.

The BCRTA Heritage committee has been involved with the creation and placement of plaques to commemorate important moments in BC’s labour history. The story of 24 year-old Connie Jervis and her fellow teachers represents a landmark moment.

The Connie Jervis story has been documented in this short video by the Labour Heritage Centre and the Knowledge Network. The BCRTA is proud to have been a sponsor of this work.

To learn more about the work of the Labour Heritage Centre, visit their website www.labourheritagecentre.ca.

Strategic Plan Update May 2018

BCRTA’s 1st Vice-President Provides Insight Into Recent Initiatives

Why We Needed a Strategic Plan

It was a concern: Despite about 1500 teachers retiring each year, membership in our Association declined by 121 members in 2014 and a further 20 in 2015. Some of our branches were struggling to fill executive positions and a few had closed. In response, in the fall of 2016, President Patricia Clough initiated a strategic planning process with the Directors of the BCRTA. An Innovation and Strategic Planning Committee (ISPC) was established and at the 2017 Annual Conference the Board presented our initial vision for the revitalization of our Association.

We received valuable comments from the conference and branches were asked to take the information to members for additional feedback. This dialogue was featured on our website. The ISPC has also recently equipped Directors with a detailed presentation that has been used to explain our plan and facilitate feedback at Zone and branch meetings.

Equipped with good feedback about our members’ needs, the Board of Directors made careful adjustments to our plans and moved into action.

GOAL #1

Build strength by increasing membership and adding services to improve the member experience.

  1. With our first-year-free campaign as well as BCTF support we have enrolled about 900 new members this year. Previously we usually enrolled less than 500 new members.
  2. Members benefit from access to our Membership Advantage partners. Our Membership Committee is working to increase the offerings as well as to ensure best value for our members. We are having success in meeting member needs: for example, 178 members have made appointments with Hearing Life Canada.
  3. Our Pensions and Benefits Committee has prepared and delivered workshops to teachers soon to retire. More than 1,000 people participated in these workshops this past year and they were all introduced to the great value of BCRTA membership.
  4. Many members join BCRTA to obtain the group insurance benefits available through our partnership with Johnson Insurance. We have been working to promote enrollment and to increase the insurance programs available.

GOAL #2

Improve clarity and transparency by developing a unified communications strategy.

The most important service we provide our retiree membership is to share information that improves their quality of life. To expand and professionalize our publications we developed a Communication Committee made up of three sub-committees, one for each of the main ways we reach members. A communication consultant was hired to advise and help with the technical aspects.

  1. Our website has been modernized and security has been enhanced. Future steps include individual member accounts. We have developed the ability to host branch websites at no cost to them, giving them access to secure and easy-to-use templates. Branches can post content themselves or get assistance from our staff. Branches are invited to participate.
  2. Our renewed newsletter BCRTA Connections has been designed to work on all electronic platforms and is accessed easily through an email sent to all members who have given us their email address. Early feedback has been great, and many thousands of members are reading the articles. We recognize that some members do not have internet access and so will provide printed copies of BCRTA Connections on request. However, it is the on-line format that most engages recent retirees.
  3. The PostScript sub-committee has developed an editorial policy and is working to add regular, cornerstone content that appeals to our 15,000+ readers. We are providing articles on well-being which include health, nutrition, exercise and financial advice. We continue to feature the activities and writing of BCRTA members and cover important policy topics. We have always included some advertising in PostScript, and in the past we gave it away for free. We are now charging for that service, and in so doing recovering some of the costs of publication and mailing.
    However, not all ads and announcements will be paid. Community service ads will be free and, as a benefit of membership, members will always be able to advertise in PostScript Classifieds at no cost.

GOAL #3

Take hold of Strategic Opportunities including controlling our insurance plans.

When researching other successful Retired Teacher Associations in Canada we discovered that their insurance plans offered great value to members while providing revenue to support the activities of the association. They have done this by harnessing economies of scale and moderating the profit margins of the insurance providers. This is an area where we will move carefully.

  1. We hired an independent consultant (ZLC Financial) to review our contractual arrangement with Johnson Inc and provide context and advice.
  2. For the first time we have negotiated improvements to the Medoc travel plan including coverage for within BC vacations and changing the language about when the 35-day limits begins to the day you leave Canada rather than our province.
  3. We have grown our Johnson EHC with Prestige Travel to cover 1,485 lives. This plan has a unique appeal to our members as it covers trips up to 62 days without a 90-day stability clause. The plan works best for those who travel a good deal.
  4. In September we will introduce a very economical new top-up Trip Cancellation policy that adds $12,000 of coverage to existing Trip Cancellation policies.
  5. We will soon introduce a new EHC-only policy as an alternative to the Green Shield Canada policy for members who don’t travel.
  6. Please note that all our current plans are fully insured plans – the insurance underwriter takes the risk and makes their profit doing that. We are carefully considering changing that model for some of our products where the risk is very limited. Some offerings like house insurance are not candidates for any change; the risks are too great for a small group like ours.

GOAL #4

Preserve our member-led culture.

The culture of the BCRTA is defined by member participation and leadership. The Board revisited our committee structures to ensure they efficiently meet the needs of our membership.

  1. We have added a 3-term limit to the position of Board Director to ensure renewal.
  2. We have combined some committees where responsibilities overlapped. The Pensions and Benefits Committee has been combined with the Retirement Workshop Committee. The new Well-being Committee now covers the work of the previous Health and Housing and the Social Concerns Committees.
  3. Members now need only serve on one committee – a step taken to encourage greater membership participation.
  4. We have a more flexible committee meeting schedule to reflect the different needs of committees at different times.

GOAL #5

Improved service though professionalized staff

To this point, much of the day-to-day work of the Association has been carried by volunteers. That is both a huge blessing for our members and a curse. We bring skills and enthusiasm to our roles but there is a limit to involvement because we want to enjoy the benefits of our retirement! And there are skills required that we do not have. Members expect that organizations such as ours will provide a high standard of communications and quality business practices. To achieve this, the Board of Directors determined that hiring a part-time Executive Director would enable us to achieve the professional standard we have set for our Association.

Remember, to this point BCRTA had only two people on staff to serve our 16,000 members. This is in sharp contrast to the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association, who with only 4,000 more members has twelve people providing service to their membership. Five of the RTAs across Canada have an Executive Director. It was time.

  1. The Board hired Tim Anderson as a Communication Consultant on three separate contracts over the past year for specific projects beginning with the development of our new web site. His responsibilities have increased with each contract and he has consistently performed above our expectations. Tim has supervised staff in his prior experience as a corporate manager. For many years Tim has provided communications and marketing services for leading non-profit organizations in BC including the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. One of Tim’s contracts was to produce the BC Seniors’ Guide which you have likely used.
  2. The Personnel Committee developed a job description for the position of Executive Director (ED) following the advice and model of other teacher and retiree organizations. The job description clearly defines the role of the ED as serving our membership under the control and direction of the Board of Directors.
  3. On May 23, the Board of Directors approved the Personnel Committee’s hiring of Tim Anderson as a 4-day per week Executive Director.
  4. While hiring an ED, or any other additional staff, will have long term implications for office space and budget, we do not believe this will require an increase in membership dues. Our growth in membership and revenue from advertisements, affinity partners and our insurance plans are expected to cover the added costs. For comparison, membership dues in the Alberta Retired Teachers Association are only $25 per year and they have 12 people on staff with an annual budget of $2.5 million.

What’s Next?

From the foregoing I hope you can clearly see that we have aimed for a measured and disciplined approach toward the growth and revitalization of our Association. The changes we have made have already produced positive results. Net membership grew by 2.1% this past year, reversing the negative trend. Our publications are better than ever. Branches are beginning to take steps to revitalize themselves by collaborating with neighbouring branches. There is excitement around the Board and Committee tables as we see our improvements taking shape.

We have used this quote to motivate our planning processes:

“When you argue for your limitations,
you get to keep them.” (Evelyn Waugh)

Of course, change can be difficult as we leave our old comfortable ways to try something new. But there is a more vibrant, influential and valuable Association in our future if we wisely take hold of the right opportunities and build together.

The Innovation and Strategic Planning Committee is a committee of the Board. It brings recommendations to the Board which has the responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the whole membership. The ISPC Committee members are Patricia Clough, Bob Taverner, Grace Wilson, Stefan Cieslik, Steve Bailey, Arnie Lambert and Gerry Tiede.

Gerry Tiede is 1st Vice-President of the BCRTA

BCRTA Hires Executive Director

The BCRTA’s Board of Directors are very happy to announce that they have successfully reached an employment agreement with Tim Anderson, to serve the Association in the position of Executive Director.

In recent months we have contracted with Tim’s company, Alphabet Communications, to work with us to improve BCRTA’s systems and communications in the areas of our website and print publications. Tim has done amazing work in those areas and continues to do so. He has impressed us all with his knowledge and skills, and with the thoughtful and cooperative way in which he has worked with Directors, Staff and Branch representatives.

We are hiring him to be our new Chief Operating Officer and, in particular, to be the staff person most responsible for helping us develop and implement our ambitious strategic plan, aimed at growing the BCRTA through greatly improving service to members.

He begins work for us in his new role on June 1st.

Patricia Clough, BCRTA President

BCRTA President Patricia Clough welcomes Tim Anderson as Executive Director

 

PROFILE – Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is a communications professional with a long history of work in adult education, program development and marketing. His firm Alphabet Communications has an impressive client list, including BC’s Ministry of Health, BC’s Health Authorities, the Ministry of Education, Diabetes Canada and numerous others. You may know his work – he designed the BC Seniors Guide.

Tim has extensive experience in working with small organizations in business systems development and media platforms in both public and private sectors. An accomplished writer and editor, he is Executive Editor of PostScript Magazine and is actively developing partnerships to enhance the BCRTA member experience.

Tim’s wife Janet is an active teacher, and they have three grown daughters and two grandchildren.

Insurance Alternatives

BCRTA members consistently rank Extended Health Care and other insurance products as extremely important to their peace of mind. Recent articles discussing member experiences with the current Teachers’ Pension Plan default coverage through Green Shield have generated much discussion and feedback. Many members are inquiring about alternative coverage.

You should know that BCRTA members have choices beyond the TPP default insurance coverage! The BCRTA Pension and Benefits Committee has partnered with Johnson Insurance to create a line-up of products tailor-made to suit our members. Some things to watch out for include comparing each plan’s coverage of the particular medications you depend on, deductibles, and lifetime coverage limits.

We have set up an easy way for you to get a free-of-charge confidential insurance assessment, to see which plans work best for you.

BCRTA is pleased to highlight these exclusive insurance offerings:

Johnson’s Extended Health Care (EHC) with Prestige Travel

This is our fastest growing insurance product.  It provides:

  • Full EHC coverage with no annual deductible.
  • Coverage for any number of 62 days trips outside of BC
  • No 90-day stability clause

Coming soon: Extended Health Care coverage.  We are expecting to offer EHC coverage this fall for our members who do not travel or who find that our Medoc plan suits their needs fully.

MEDOC Travel Insurance is the Most Popular Travel Option

  • Any number of 17 or 35 day trips out of British Columbia
  • 3 rate levels.  You can’t beat the Optimum rates if you qualify by completing a Health Option Questionnaire.

House Insurance

  • Ask our Johnson’s insurance professional for an apples-to-apples comparison the next time your house insurance renews.  You may be surprised at the savings available to BCRTA members.

Best Friend Advice

BCRTA has continued to work with Johnson’s over the years because of the excellent service they provide.  We recommend that you talk to a Johnson Insurance Professional when you are considering the alternative plans available.  They will help you understand the technical differences between the plans and help you make the right decision for you, even if it means staying with your current provider.

Get a free-of-charge confidential insurance assessment, and see which plans work best for you. Visit www.bcrta.ca/alternatives and learn more.

Lobby on the Hill

For a number of years now the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) has organized an annual Lobby on Parliament Hill, which involves about 100 lobbyists visiting as many Members of Parliament and senators as possible. Various interest groups, including health care policy scholars and practitioners across the country, and of course, members of the public, are engaged in the lobby.

These numbers and the participation were true for 2018 as well, although it was somewhat unfortunate that the lobby day this year (Feb 27) coincided with the release of the 2018 budget. Some appointments were cancelled. But at the end of the day, 85 lobbyists had 77 meetings with Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs, as well as Liberal, Conservative and Independent Senators. Some of the MPs who had to cancel their meeting have since been in touch with the CHC asking if they can meet with the advocates in their ridings.

President Patricia Clough and JoAnn Lauber came from BC on behalf of the BCRTA; and BC’s COSCO and Health Coalition were also represented. Brian Kenny, the president of the Canadian Association of Retired Teachers, engaged in the Lobby as well.

The CHC arranged for about 70 delegates/lobbyists to attend Question Period. As it was the first such session following the Prime Minister’s visit to India, the dynamics of Question Period were most revealing – the heckling, in particular, was excessive and non-productive.

This year’s Lobby theme was opposition to encroaching privatization of our public health care system. The extent of the concerns and gravity around privatization were highlighted.

The Canadian Health Coalition observed, “We noticed support [for opposing health care privatization] in all the parties, and disinterest by some Liberal and Conservative MPs. Overall, NDP MPs were supportive but not all to the same extent.”

BCRTA believes that engagement in this annual lobby exercise is worthwhile: it highlights cross-country concerns related to health care, it empowers advocacy that is often translated into action in the provinces represented in the event, and it serves BCRTA members for whom health care and well being remain of immediate interest.

The Canadian Health Coalition also has a Fact Sheet on for-profit healthcare.

More Online Resources in Development

After a successful launch of our new BCRTA website, we are moving toward a series of new services to better connect members to BCRTA programs and to their local branches.

Our consultant, Tim Anderson of Alphabet Communications, and the IT subcommittee have already released new features on the website for staff and the Board of Directors. Next steps will include the addition of log-in privileges and dedicated resources for our branch executives. The goal is to eventually grant secure, private access to all BCRTA members, giving them the ability to manage their account preferences themselves. Of course, our staff will always be available to support member needs as well.

Quite a few branches have their own websites, and we have been including their information in our branch listings at www.bcrta.ca/branches. Our IT team is actively developing a platform that will allow branches to make their websites fit smoothly within the BCRTA system, and to manage their own member lists through connection with the BCRTA membership list. The idea is to provide the necessary technical services, along with an easy-to-use website system, so that local branches can focus on putting out the content their members want to see without having to manage complex technicalities on their own. If your branch is interested in benefiting from this initiative, contact the office and let us know.

Communications Committee members are hearing much positive feedback about the improvements made to our website, and are excited about the further improvements that are in the works.
The PostScript and BCRTA Connections subcommittees have been developing policies, procedures and guidelines covering the solicitation, submission, editing and general quality of articles and other material for those publications. The subcommittees have also been researching fair rates and rules to govern ads in our publications—something new for the BCRTA.

A particular focus for the Communications Committee is how we can work together to attract new members, and to keep the members that we have through continually improving the attractiveness and helpfulness of our publications. If you, dear reader, have suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

Bob Taverner
Communications Committee Chair

BCRTA Meets Active Teachers

The BCRTA had a very effective presence at the March Annual General Meeting of the BCTF. Our table was perfectly placed in terms of traffic flow, and we were able to speak with representatives of BCTF locals around the province. We may even have a new branch in the making!

In terms of our BCRTA Strategic Plan, we are working on a membership structure that will encourage pre-retirement teachers to join, participate in our benefits and Advantage Partner offerings and then make a seamless transition into BCRTA membership at retirement. This initiative is part of the development of a comprehensive membership orientation package detailing BCRTA member services and advantages of BCRTA membership.

We are looking for a possible name for our pre-retirement membership category. If you have any great ideas, please forward them to Steve at sdbailey504@gmail.com. Some names already suggested include “Pre-Flight Member”, “Active Associate Member”, “Priority Associate of the BCRTA”, “Member-in-Waiting”. We await your ideas not only for a name, but for any aspects of pre-retirement membership you might think of.

We are also continuing our “One Year Complimentary Membership” initiative during the coming year. This initiative has resulted in a significant growth in BCRTA membership during the past months.

We are pleased to announce the addition of Travel Agency Tribes to our Members’ Advantage Program. Watch for a link coming soon to the BCRTA website. Travel Tribes searches for the best travel deals across several providers and will be a good addition to our existing travel partners. Please be advised that First Memorial / Dignity Memorial is no longer partnered with the BCRTA and the BCTF. Existing contracts will be honoured.

We need your ideas in another membership area. We are looking at the melding of provincial and branch membership fees, moving to a new single fee rate for all members that includes branch membership at no extra charge. This would mean one standard membership fee with ability to join more than one branch, perhaps declaring one branch as their “home branch” for purposes of Branch Membership Grants. Any thoughts you have on this possibility are appreciated.

A big thanks to George Main, former Membership Committee member and current member of the Communications Committee for re-designing our Branch Membership Enhancement Guide for posting on the BCRTA website. The revised guide should be on-line sometime in May. Speaking of using our BCRTA website to enhance the BCRTA branch experience, please make sure you send a copy of your branch newsletter to Kristi at the BCRTA office, and plan to make it a part of your posting on your branch site on the BCRTA website so that all branches have access to your ideas for branch activities.

 

Steve Bailey, Chair, Membership Committee

Excellence in Education Update

The Excellence Committee asks Branches to remind teachers in their area that the “Golden Star Awards” deadline of April 15th is fast approaching.  We have received a number of applications and are hoping to receive many more in the coming days.

Another date to remember for Branches is June 1st,  “Intergenerational Day”- a day to celebrate and focus on activities that involve seniors and youth.

In 2016 the BC School Trustees Association proclaimed June 1st as “Intergenerational Day” in perpetuity, and your local School Trustees may be looking for ways to celebrate this year.  The Excellence Committee will be sending out a number of suggestions that you may find helpful to mark this day. Look for details in the next BCRTA Connections.

Heritage Fund Recipient Wins Award

The Heritage Committee reported that one of the recipients of funding from the BCRTA has won an award!

The Prince George Retired Teachers Association’s Heritage Committee won the Jeanne Clarke Award for Local History for their work “Historical Memories: People, Places, Programs and Services”.  The Jeanne Clarke Memorial local history award is awarded by the Prince George Public Library Board in memory of Jeanne Clarke, a former library board chair who helped establish the Prince George Public Library’s local history collection.

The award went to the Prince George Retired Teachers’ Association for their work on a four-part series which features all 138 former and present School District 57 schools.  The work included the schools’ history, including programs, activities and enrollment numbers, staff lists, photos of students, teachers and buildings, and shared memories submitted by former staff and students.  Tiiu Noukas, co-chair of the Heritage Committee for the Prince George Retired Teachers’ Association was featured on the front page of the Prince George Citizen newspaper on February 20 2018, as she posed with the award and a copy of Historical Memories.  Noukas co-edited the book with Kris Nellis, who is a co-chair of the Heritage Committee for the PGRTA. Funding was given by the BCRTA Heritage Committee.

Interested in a Heritage Grant?

The Heritage Committee also reminds the branches that applications for Heritage grants are due by May 1st, with information available from the website at bcrta.ca/heritage

 

From left to right: Lynne, Louisa, Janice, Diane, Barb and Cheryl

Finance Committee March Report

Committee Members:  Grace Wilson,  Bob Taverner,  Stefan Cieslik, Charan Gill,  Arnie Lambert, Barb Mikulec, Patricia Clough

The Finance Committee has completed a review of the expense procedures.  New or revised procedures have been approved by the Board and will be included on an updated expense form for Board approval.  These procedures will also be incorporated into the BCRTA Handbook.

Rob McLaren, past treasurer of the BCTF, spoke to the committee about investing outside of GICs.  The sub committee has taken his information under consideration and will be reporting to the next Finance Committee meeting.