AGM 2019 Highlights

The BCRTA held its Annual General Meeting and Conference Oct 3-5 in Richmond. Here are some highlights:

Survey Shows Member Satisfaction

A survey of members made available online and in PostScript magazine drew a large response of over 1,500 submissions.

Members expressed a strong desire for BCRTA to continue to focus on defending pension security for members and seniors, and a strong satisfaction with the job BCRTA is doing in that area. Areas that could use growth include branch engagement and use of BCRTA Advantage programs. See some more details of the 2019 Survey here.

Speakers

Dr. Art Hister had delegates “in stitches”

The 2019 Conference Keynote Address was given by Dr. Art Hister, who had the delegates “in stitches” with his humorous health advice. Amongst his many bon mots was an injunction to be careful with medical advice that applies to “the average person.” After all, Hister quipped, “the average person has one testicle and one ovary.”

Following Hister’s talk there was a time for delegates to engage in some physical activity and a presentation on de-cluttering your home.

President Gerry Tiede updated the delegates on the association’s progress in pursuit of its strategic plan, and gave some further insights into current news in pensions.

Membership awards were given to branches with the most member growth.

The Friday evening banquet included the inaugural PostScript Excellence Awards, an event celebrating the contributions of members to BCRTA’s flagship publication. The winners were cheered by attendees. Dancing and socializing concluded the evening.

Finances in Order

On AGM day Grace Wilson, 1st Vice President and Treasurer, reported on BCRTA’s financial results for the year ended June 30, 2019,  which had a bottom line better than budgeted. A representative from auditor KPMG confirmed a clean bill of health for the financial statements. A budget for the 2019-2020 year was approved, along with a setting of member fees to $42 per year effective the year following.

Motions From the Floor

Two motions were made from the floor of the AGM:

Motion: “To eliminate the use of single use plastics and Styrofoam in our BCRTA meetings provincially and in the BCRTA branches.”

Moved by Barb Henshall, Campbell River

Seconded by Bonni Roset, Campbell River

Amended:  by Rosalind Kellett, Vancouver

Amended motion: “That BCRTA strive to eliminate the use of single use plastics and Styrofoam in our BCRTA meetings provincially and in the BCRTA branches.”

CARRIED

 

Motion: “That BCRTA encourage the federal and provincial governments to move quickly to ban flavoured juices used in vaping devices.”

Moved by:  Val Windsor

Seconded by Pat Thiesen,  Delta

CARRIED

2019 Member Survey Highlights

A recent survey of BCRTA members showed a strong commitment of members to the central purposes of the association and high levels of satisfaction.

A good cross-section of members responded to the survey.

Defending the pensions of our members and seniors in Canada has been a central goal of the BCRTA. Members indicated strong satisfaction with the association’s activity in this area.

While many members are comfortable with electronic communications, the majority of members prefer to receive our flagship publication PostScript Magazine as a full-colour print publication. PostScript is very popular with our members.

Members were asked about their experience in receiving support from the BCRTA office, and feedback was very positive.

The survey showed that the majority of BCRTA members provide some form of unpaid work in their communities. Based on the responses, BCRTA estimates that our members give more than 238,000 hours each month providing care to others, in the mentoring of young people, in service on non-profits and many other forms of volunteering. When valued at a modest hourly rate of $20, we estimate that BCRTA members provide some $57 million dollars per year of unpaid service to their communities!

The survey asked our members to indicate how important different activities of the association were to them. Here are some of their responses:

BCRTA’s Board of Directors and branch executives will be using the results of the survey to better serve our members.

Thanks to all who participated!

Health Funding Agreements 2019

A Comparison of the Health Funding Agreements
Between the provinces and Territories and
The Federal Government

Jo-Ann Lauber, a member of the BCRTA and an active participant in our organization has provided a comprehensive analysis and comparison of the 13 different health agreements reached with the Justin Trudeau Liberal government between their election in 2015 and 2019.  This was Jo-Ann’s last major contribution to our and other retired teacher organizations before stepping back for a bit.  It is a comprehensive, well-researched, and documented report.  I recommend to all BCRTA members to read and review this report.

You can view the report by visiting www.bcrta.ca/healthfunding2019.

Terry Green
Chair, Well-being Committee

Have You Had Your Shot Yet?

Just a short note to remind you to get your annual “Flu” shot. As a senior, it is recommended that you get the High Dose Fluzone version of the vaccine (costs about $80), but it will not be available for distribution until later in November this year. That being the case, if you are one of the more vulnerable in our society, you shouldn’t wait for the High Dose, you should get the standard (and free) version of the flu vaccine from your own doctor or pharmacist who are giving the vaccinations now. It is better to get basic protection against the virus that is already here in BC. It not only protects you from getting sick but all those people you come in contact with – friends, family (especially grandkids), and your community will have protection, too.

While you are getting your flu vaccination, check to see if you should up-date other vaccinations – shingles, tetanus, and pneumonia.

Pat Thiesen
Well-Being Committee

Quick Facts About Long Term Care in 2019

In October 2019, the Office of the Senior’s Advocate released the 2019 Quick Facts Directory (QFD) that provides information on all publicly funded long-term care homes in BC.  The data indicates a significant increase in care hours over the past year bringing public facilities closer to the 3.36 hours of care per bed per day, particularly for bed space that is contracted from private facilities.  In addition to funded hours of care, the QFD reports on a series of quality indicators and new for this year are the release of inspection reports that shows a total of 765 inspections which found 1,103 infractions; 21% related to care and supervision, 19% to record keeping, and 13% due to staffing issues.  The demographic data indicates the average resident age is 85 and 5% of residents are under the age of 65.  Other highlights included:  food costs have increased by 3% and ranged from $5.59 t0 $19.88 per day, the length of stay has remained stable, overall care per diems increased by 4.6% ranging from $182.23 to $272.35 per bed per day, the rate of reportable incidents remained constant and has dropped from 17.5 to 15.8 over the past five years, and the substantiated complaints has dropped over the past year from 7.4 per 1,000 beds to 5.9.

A summary of the QFD is available at http://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2019/09/QuickFacts2019-Summary.pdf.

To review the full report go online to the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate at https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca and search British Columbia Long-Term Care Facilities Quick Facts Directory.

If you are considering moving to or have a family member who needs to be moved to an extended care facility I would recommend taking a bit of time and refer to the summary and to the full report on the public facility you might be considering.

Terry Green
Chair, Well-Being Committee

BC Pensions Outperform Benchmarks

The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), which is the investment agent for several pension plans including the Teachers’ Pension Plan, had an annual combined pension return, net of costs, of 6.1 per cent for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. This return surpassed a combined market benchmark of 4.5 per cent and generated $2 billion in added value for BCI’s pension plan clients. The excess return was largely driven by the outperformance of its private assets, finishing the fiscal year with significant returns from both income generation and capital appreciation. Its managed net assets increased to $153.4 billion from the previous year, reflecting investment gains of $9 billion, partially offset by $1.2 billion of client distributions.

“Our results reflect solid performance from all asset classes despite the uncertainty and volatility in the markets,” says Gordon J. Fyfe, CEO/CIO of BCI. “These contributions signal the success of our strategic focus since 2015 of adopting an active, in-house approach that emphasizes private markets.

Note: this data refers to all pension plan returns and is not specific to the Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Source: Pension and Benefits Monitor News

BCRTA Advocates to Protect Class Size and Composition

Experienced educators understand the critical importance of maintaining healthy class size in schools, and the significance of understanding the needs of each child. After a long struggle to restore negotiated language on class size and competition was resolved by the Supreme Court of Canada, these standards are once again at risk.

On behalf of members of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association, President Gerry Tiede recently wrote the following letter to BC Premier John Horgan, and addressed this issue. As part of our mandate to champion the cause of public education, the BC Retired Teachers’ Association strongly supports active teachers in their need to maintain workable class sizes with proper support for the needs of students.

100 – 550 WEST 6TH AVENUE  ·  VANCOUVER, BC  · V5Z 4P2

June 19, 2019
The Honourable John Horgan, M.L.A.,
Premier of British Columbia
PO BOX 9041 STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC
V8W 9E1

Dear Premier,

I am writing to you today as President of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association, representing over 17,000 retired educators who have spent a lifetime in public education. We understand as well as anyone the conditions in which kids learn and thrive. Our association is working wherever we can to be champions of public education in British Columbia.

So as informed observers, parents and grandparents we are reaching out to you today to express our concern regarding a critical issue that once again seems to be at play in your talks with active teachers: class size and composition.

Class size and composition is not just another line item to discuss – it is the balancing point for all our hopes for effective teaching.

Because we have lived through the changes in public education in recent years, we are especially keen to not see mistakes revisited and to preserve the high goals that we sought in the classroom. In the last quarter century, some important and ambitious standards have been set, including:

  •  More personalized learning for students
  •  Greatly expanded PLOs
  •  Emphasis on better graduation rates, especially for marginalized populations
  •  Adapting to the changing needs of students in a digital-speed environment
  •  Integration of students with special needs into classrooms

We worked hard to make all these improvements possible, and the results have been remarkable. What is the common factor required to effectively address all the trends noted here? Attention. To give quality attention to the needs of students, teachers should not be rushed for prep time, divided in their goals, stressed by the uncertainty of support, or forced to choose which students to neglect.

Please also remember it is public schools where children with the greatest challenges come to learn. Private schools accept public funds much more quickly than they accept students with special needs.

You have been a close observer of the previous government and the real headwinds facing public education over the past few years. Stability and respect for education was in short supply for over a decade. The faulty thinking of that regime was repudiated in fifteen minutes by the Supreme Court of Canada, but the injustice visited upon teachers and students lasted for fifteen years.

Premier, degrading BC’s standards for classroom size and composition would not just be a disservice to teachers but would strike at the hopes for meaningful learning for the children of our province. It seems surreal that we are revisiting this issue. If there is any infrastructure that our society must build and preserve, surely it is the hearts and minds of our young.

Like you, we have set our identity on standing up for the needs of our society. For us, that meant serving those who turned to us for the most essential help there is – an education. BC’s teachers and students have endured uncertainty and mismanagement for decades. What happens next will be pivotal for the next generation of BC students.

Please, don’t fail them now.

Sincerely,

 

Gerry Tiede
President
BC Retired Teachers’ Association

Benefits of BCRTA Membership

As a retired teacher/administrator member of the BCRTA, I have been able to participate in many valuable and rewarding opportunities at both the provincial and local RTA levels.

I have been a member at the Provincial and local RTA since my retirement in 2007. I hold an executive position in my RTA and have been on two provincial committees for the past three years. It has been my hope that by doing this that I am contributing to the welfare and betterment of all provincial members. The friendships that I have formed through both the provincial committees and local association have resulted in lifelong connections.

My local branch has as its aim to “live for today and tomorrow, not yesterday.” Our past gives each member a common history but it is not our driver. My local branch meets four times a year for about 90 minutes. If there should be important provincial information it is shared at that time or via email or snail mail throughout the year. We often have a guest speaker to provide information on topics that have been suggested by members. We have also been fortunate to send two local members to the Provincial RTA and AGM each Fall. This keeps us connected in positive ways.

I would encourage all retired educators to open the door to the benefits of becoming a member of BCRTA and their local RTA if they are fortunate to have one. I also recommend that you look at the BCRTA website and see the many things available to active members. I recently used the Endless Savings and More App and saved enough money to pay for my provincial and local membership to the BCRTA for the coming year. It is reassuring to have an executive at the provincial level that supports our pension, our medical and dental benefits, and other opportunities that allow us to age with dignity.

Elaine Thompson
BCRTA and Local Association Member

BCRTA Advocacy in Action at Parliament

On June 6, 2019, representatives from BCRTA joined dignitaries from our sister organizations across Canada to attend Parliament and see petitions for pension security presented in the House.

MP Bob Zimmer stood in for MP Mark Warawa who was absent due to cancer. Zimmer presented the ACER-CART e-Petition advocating for pension security. The petition, which attracted 13,720 signatures, is in the top 4% of all e-petitions filed with the House of Commons. 4,107 of those signatures came from BC. Great work, BCRTA!

At the same session MP Julian presented several of BCRTA’s written petitions opposing Bill C-27 and gave credit to the BCRTA as a leading activist. Again, congratulations to the Branches of BCRTA for their diligent and persistent work in support of protecting defined benefit pensions.

Thursday’s pre-AGM afternoon included the orientation of new delegates to ACER-CART and a presentation from the National Association of Federal Retirees (NAFR), who reviewed the basics of non-partisan issues advocacy in elections. Between now and the October federal election, we will be in conversation with candidates about the issues that matter to retired teachers and seniors. This session confirmed the processes we in BC usually use to plan and set up platforms to engage would-be MPs.

Owen Adams, Chief Policy Advisor for the Canadian Medical Association, provided the AGM with the issues deemed by the CMA as important in the upcoming election. The CMA agrees that the most important issue in this election will be Pharmacare. It is their opinion that it is now or never and that every organization that cares about this issue must demand a position from all  candidates. CMA has the same fear as ACER-CART: that the Federal Government will propose a ‘filling the gaps’ approach. Filling the gaps approach is NOT the ACER-CART preferred action.

The second guest speaker was the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minster of Seniors. Minister Tassi is a lawyer who has been intimately involved in education. Minister Tassi thanked delegates for their contribution to education and reviewed the government’s commitment to seniors, especially low income seniors:

  • GIS now has an exemption for the first $5000 of earned income,
  • CPP has been enhanced and now Government is working toward automatic enrollment,
  • OAS application includes GIS,
  • Consultation on Pension Security had 4000 respondents,
  • Healthy Aging has $75,000 for a pilot project in New Brunswick,
  • $50 million has been pinpointed over 5 years for a national dementia study,
  • New Horizons for Seniors grants up to $25,000 are available to seniors’ groups to foster social inclusion and prevent senior isolation.

2019/20 ACER-CART Executive Committee

President – Bill Berryman, Nova Scotia
Vice-President – Gerry Tiede, BCRTA
Regional Rep. East – Margaret Urquhart, NB
Regional Rep. Ontario – Martin Higgs, Ontario
Regional Rep. West – Marilyn Bossert, Alberta
Executive Director – Roger Régimbal, Ottawa

ACER-CART Attendees from BC

Gerry Tiede, President BCRTA
JoAnn Lauber, Special Advisor ACER-CART
Dale Lauber, BCRTA Rep to ACER-CART
Tim Anderson, Executive Director BCRTA.

BCRTA Heritage – Housing

The early days of the Retired Teachers began in Victoria and Vancouver with the two groups of retirees meeting before W.W.II as a part of the BCTF. Eventually they formed their own registered Association. The Retired Teachers Pension Action group came into existence in 1942. The major interests concerned retirees pensions, cost of living and housing.

The Retired Teachers Association of BC became a registered group under the Provincial Act, in May 1955 and was incorporated under the Society Act of BC. By 1956 the RTA had about 1,100 members.

The housing needs of retirees on limited pensions was a grave concern. The President of the Federation, Mr. R. R. Smith, suggested that the retired teachers association should invest their money in Real Estate in Vancouver. This was done successfully, through Mr. Smiths’ real estate knowledge with the co-operation of the Finance and Advisory Committee. The BCTF was also helpful with financing, and was repaid by the retirees. Mr. R. R. Smith spoke about action taken to secure relief for some of the hardships suffered by retired teachers concerned about their housing costs.

At the 1952 BCTF AGM, the Retired Teachers Section had a panel discussion on Housing for Retired Teachers. Dr. Black served as chairman. Mr. Fred Turner described the housing plans for Senior Citizens at present being instituted by the United Church of Canada. Mr. R. R. Smith, President of the Federation, discussed a co-operative Housing Scheme which might be worked out to the advantage of retired teachers on low income. Those interested were asked to write their names and addresses on a slip of paper and hand them in to the secretary at the meeting.

At the 1952 AGM it was moved by Mr. Connor, seconded by Mr. Caulfield that Dr. Black, Mr. G. F. Turner and Mr. R. R. Smith, President of the Federation, become a committee to study the feasibility of a Housing Scheme for Retired Teachers.

This Committee was to report the result of its investigation to the Executive for consideration. Mr. Smith consented to write an article on the subject for the BCTF.

BC Retired Teachers at the BCTF AGM 1953

A meeting of the BC Retired Teachers Section of the BC Teachers’ Federation was held at John Oliver High School at 9:30 am on April 7th, 1953. Mr. Armstrong told the meeting of the purchase of property in Burnaby for a Housing Scheme for Retired Teachers and showed a map of the property.
Mr. Fred Turner spoke on the United Church scheme for Senior Citizens which is proving very successful. Mr. R. R. Smith addressed the retired teachers about the Housing project and described the types of buildings which could be developed on the property.

Since the property in Burnaby had been purchased through the BCTF Federation no further action could be taken until the matter had been discussed at the general meeting.

The annual meeting gave the retired teachers a year in which to show progress in the development of the property. If after a year no progress had been made the property was to be sold by the Federation. In May 1955 the senior executive officers of the BC Retired Teachers officially registered their Association.

Accounts, Retired Teachers’ Housing Project 1954

A. Account with BCTF

Paid by BCTF: purchase of Victory Heights Property$12,750.00
Miscellaneous (architect’s fees, taxes, interest, surveyor’s fees, etc.$1,197.60
Total$13,947.60
Fully refunded by RTA to BCTF$13,847.60

B. Statement re: Victory Heights Property:

Anticipated gross revenue from sale of land$27,175.00
Charges: Purchase Price ( $12,750.00 less refund re services $1,395.62) Total Net purchase price$11,354.38
Architect’s fees$490.00
Taxes$340.22
Clearing$1,655.00
Registration fees$24.00
Total$13,863.60
Anticipated profit from sale of land $13,311.40

C. Statement re: Smith Avenue Property

Total cost -land purchased from Joshua H. Mayer August, 1954$19,000
Charges: Proportion of water rates, taxes, fire insurance, legal fees$226.98
Interest$300.00
Total expenditures$19, 526.98

Having bought the Smith Avenue property, the Retired Teachers Trust Fund indicated donations by Active and Retired Teachers, also donation and a loan from a retired teacher, so that the property could be bought, leaving a balance on hand in December15, 1954 of $153.58.

Having sold the Victory Heights lots with a substantial profit, the more expensive Smith Avenue property was purchased. Both active and retired teachers contributed to the funds to purchase the properties, with total pledges of $7,431.58.

Assets: Smith Avenue property at cost: $19,526.98

Money receivable from cash sale of Victory Heights lots: $13,311.40

Retired Teachers’ Housing Committee Statement of Receipts and Expenditures Dec 15, 1954

Minutes of the BCRTA AGM 1959

Mr. Smith’s report on the Investment situation stated the various investments made on behalf of the Retired Teachers’ Association, including Victory Heights, Smith Avenue, Shaughnessy Residential Club and the West 7th Avenue property.

The West 7th Avenue, Vancouver report-the properties at 1865, 1875, and 1885 West 7 Avenue had been purchased, giving a frontage of 150 feet on West 7 Avenue. The plans call for 32 suites: including 21 Bachelor suites and 11 one-bedroom suites. Tenders will be called during week of early April. Operations should commence about May 1, and completion by end of five months. Moved by Mr. Hill, seconded by Miss Dauphinee for plans to be accepted as read. Carried. Mr. Woodhead spoke in appreciation of Mr. R. R. Smith’s great assistance to the Retired Teachers in this housing project.

In the early years of the Retired Teachers Association, the Finance and Advisory Committee were working with Mr. Willway and his Victoria Committee, as well as Alan Spragge of the BCTF giving his assistance, too.

However in 1967, the Finance and Advisory Committee advised Mr. Graham Bruce and his RTA Executive to sell the Shaughnessy Residential Lodge for retired single teachers on West 41st Avenue. It was costing the RTA $1,600 to maintain over and above the income from the tenants.

These early documents of our BCRTA history indicate concerns about housing, and efforts to build accommodation for retired teachers, taken from the original sources of hand written or typed notes.

Barb Mikulec
Heritage Committee