60 eh? Test Those Ears

On Dec. 3, 2019, the Well-Being Committee received an excellent presentation from Sally Thompson who is National Director of Affinity Development with Hearing Life, one the BCRTA’s Advantage Program partners. Her presentation was not so much about purchasing hearing aids, expensive or not, but on the importance of hearing health being part of our overall health profile. Starting at age 60 hearing acuity often declines. In fact, 47% of those who are of age 60 suffer some hearing loss. In addition to the inconvenience of not being able to follow a conversation or hear the TV, hearing loss also has an impact on both the functioning of the auditory processing of the brain and the overall health of the senior. The longer the hearing impairment is left untreated the greater the likelihood of significant long-term damage to the brain and serious health deficits for the individual.

Age, Illness, and Even Medications Can Affect Your Hearing

The use of some medications can impact the hearing nerves in the brain. For example, long term use of Aspirin or common antibiotics ending in “cin” can damage the auditory nerve.  Your doctor should be able to advise you on appropriate use to minimize damaging effects of these medications.  That is why it is important for hearing testing to be a regular part of your health regimen at the age of 60. There are many causes of hearing loss, some of which can be treated without having to resort to hearing aids. Hearing testing is a cost-free service with Hearing Life. You do not require a medical referral for a hearing test, you can simply call 1.855.749.7743 or visit the online booking page on their website. Mention you are a member of BCRTA and Hearing Life will schedule you into a clinic convenient to you.

What to Expect

The hearing test process, regardless of the provider, should emphasize diagnosis first and not the purchase of devices. Included should be a discussion of your medical history, the results of Otoscopy, Tympanometry, Air/Bone Conduction, and speech understanding assessment. Ms. Thompson gave an explanation of some “advantages” her network offers to BCRTA members. The free hearing test determines the nature of the hearing loss and what sort of remedies are available (not always a hearing aid). Free trials of various devices help patients find the right one.

The Cost of Hearing Aids

A common concern is the cost of hearing aids. Thompson pointed out that devices have different price points, but the primary concern should be selecting the device that best addresses your needs. As I write this, Hearing Life is offering BCRTA members a 25% discount off the price of hearing aids, plus the special 10% discount that BCRTA members always receive. Hearing Life sometimes has a reputation of being expensive, but Thompson pointed out that they have a price-matching guarantee. Those who find the one-time cost of purchasing a device should consider that financing is available. Both Green Shield and Johnson EHC plans also have some coverage for hearing aids – check your plan. When you need a hearing aid, the final cost per day is small compared to the health benefits. According to Thompson, in addition to requiring a professional certification , all Hearing Life centers abide by a code of conduct that emphasizes honest and accurate hearing assessment and appropriate treatment planning. You should never receive a “pitch” from any hearing provider to buy something you don’t need.

Ms. Thompson concluded that hearing aids do not cure hearing loss but work to stabilize speech understanding capabilities in neuro-sensory cases. Successful treatment relies on a positive attitude, willingness to learn, practice, patience and commitment of the client to persevere in the acclimatization process of adapting to hearing aids. Most importantly, addressing hearing loss concerns does contribute to a longer, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle for seniors.

After her presentation I felt very reassured that we as BCRTA members have an Advantage Partner that can offer retired teachers a valuable and cost-effective way of treating hearing loss.

Terry Green
Chair, Well-Being Committee

Merry Christmas from BCRTA!

A Christmas Wish 2019

I used to dread snow days when I was a school principal. Will staff get to school safely? Will the parking lot be cleared? Will the school be warm? Will somebody lose an eye from an errant snowball? So many real and imagined worries.

But not Christmas storms – I loved the snowfalls that came during the holidays. They were great excuses to keep the car in the garage, cuddle up with a coffee by the fire, read a book from under the Christmas tree and complete our annual family jigsaw puzzle.

Don’t you feel the same way? Sometimes we need a big storm to slow our pace, and help us appreciate the simple blessings that surround us. Wrapped up in a spirit of giving, surrounded by friends and family, safe and warm, Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year. Deep snow makes it even better.

My wish is that you experience one beautiful, awe-inspiring storm this winter… from inside the warmth and security of your kitchen window. But let’s not be stupid, one storm is probably enough!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Gerry Tiede
President, BCRTA

ACER-CART to Engage With New Parliament

At the suggestion of the BCRTA executive, the Western Region of the Canadian Association of retired Teachers (ACER-CART) has recommended to the ACER-CART national executive that it prepare introductory material to be sent to all Members of Parliament, the newly appointed Federal Cabinet, and Canada’s senators.

This material will outline who we are as provincial or territorial organizations under the ACER-CART banner, and specify what our goals and priorities are for federal legislation. ACER-CART vice-president (also BCRTA president) Gerry Tiede, along with Western Regional coordinator, Marilyn Bossert of Alberta have begun action on this initiative at the national level.

ACER-CART’s Western regional representatives met in Edmonton in November and exchanged ideas on a variety of topics including governance models, insurance trends, national health trends, and ways to market our provincial organizations to retired teachers.

Steve Bailey sits on the board of ACER-CART as BCRTA’s representative.

BCRTA has been serving retired educators in BC for 75 years!


With the 75th anniversary of the BCRTA coming up in 2020, an ad hoc committee is making recommendations to the Board of Directors concerning how we can best celebrate this milestone. Ideas are being developed for a logo, commemorative merchandise, historical commemorative material as well as PostScript and video presentations to mark the occasion. The Committee is particularly interested in having our BCRTA branches submit historical photographs and short articles to be used in developing our commemorative celebration.

Members are requested to dig into your branch archives and forward material to the 75th Anniversary Committee, Attn. Steve Bailey, at the BCRTA office. Any ideas you have for this celebration would be most welcome. The Heritage and Communications committees are excited about this initiative.

Committee members are Janice Androsoff, chair of the Heritage Committee, Arnie Lambert, chair of the Communications Committee, Carol Baird-Krull, member of the Heritage and Communications committees, and BCRTA directors Sterling Campbell, Floyd Smith, and Steve Bailey (Chair).

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.


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.”



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


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