Heritage Updates Application Criteria

The Heritage Committee has updated their criteria and grant applications form and they are available on the BCRTA website.  Please note that the due date is May 1st, and funding will be adjudicated for projects which involve retired educators on heritage initiatives. Some ideas might be marking the site of former schools, writing a compilation of school histories in the district, remembering through oral history or photos of past presidents of branches, or preserving archival materials for use in classrooms.  We would be delighted to hear about your ideas.

Barb Mikulec
barb.mikulec@bcrta.ca 

Membership Means Savings

The BCRTA is living in interesting times!  Our First Year complimentary Membership initiative has resulted in a significant BCRTA membership gain this year. Keep spreading the word.

In order to enhance membership growth, the Membership Committee is developing some BCRTA merchandise for distribution, and is looking at new ways to extend membership eligibility.

We are also exploring the possible merger of provincial and branch membership fees. This would mean a standard BCRTA fee that includes membership in one branch of choice. Members could join a second branch for an additional fee. It is hoped that this arrangement could be part of the First Year complimentary Membership offer. We are also looking at promoting a “pre-retirement associate membership” to help transition retiring teachers into the BCRTA by giving access to our benefits and services. We’d appreciate any thoughts branches might have on these proposals. Send your comments to steve.bailey@bcrta.ca.

We also continue to explore new Members’ Advantage Program additions to expand our range of discounted goods and services available to our members. News on this as we complete partner arrangements. Our newest partners, HearingLife Canada and Merit Travel are quite popular while long-time partners such as Park’N Fly and Collette Travel remain a vital part of our program. Please remind your branch members to use their membership card to ask if they can arrange for discounts at local businesses. Remind them to download the Endless Savings and More App also. There are lots of savings to be had!

Branch Executives Please Take Note:

  • Announce to your members through your newsletter or at a branch meeting that Dignity Memorial / First Memorial has ended its Members’ Advantage partnership with both the BCTF and the BCRTA. All contracts completed to date will be honoured.
  • Your branch membership updates are available in Excel format at well as pdf from Laurie at the BCRTA office. Excel is much easier to work with, and new members added since the last report can be easily identified. Just place a request with Laurie. If you wish members’ membership number be included with the report, please ask specifically for that information.
  • From time to time, some of our Members’ Advantage partners may contact you about having a presence at a branch meeting. For example, Merit Travel has outstanding presentations as does Hearing Life Canada. Members Advantage partners can provide informative topics for branch gatherings. Please take advantage of their expertise and their willingness to provide a service to our members.

If you are thinking about joining BCRTA, or are a new member, please have a look at the Branches link of the BCRTA website. You will find information on branch executives across the province, and often the branch newsletters are linked to the site. Take time to read each other’s branch newsletters to get new ideas and see what’s going on across the province.

Green Shield Plan Questions

The BCRTA office staff are spending quite a bit of time dealing with questions and issues around Green Shield Canada (GSC) – the Extended Health Benefit provider for members in the Teachers’ Pension Plan. The move to Green Shield was a decision of the Teachers’ Pension Board of Trustees – not the BCRTA. The decision was made following an open competition; other insurance companies were invited to submit proposals and GSC won the competition. The BCRTA plays no role in this as we have no direct contractual relationship with GSC.

Please share this information:

  1. The GSC plan is like the former Blue Cross plan both in design and service. GSC has worked to ensure affordability by not increasing premiums this year and has also worked to be more precise, strict and consistent in interpreting the agreement and in accepting or denying claims.
  2. If a problem occurs:

a) Contact Green Shield directly and try to solve the problem with an agent of GSC.

b) If not satisfied escalate your demands by asking to speak to a supervisor. To request an escalation in service call toll free 1-888-711-1119 Mon. to Fri. 5:30am to 5:30pm or email: customer.service@greenshield.ca. Be specific.

c) If still not satisfied, access Green Shield’s Customer Complaint Resolution process at the following URL: http://www.greenshield.ca/en-ca/get-in-touch/we-re-happy-if-you-re-happy
You may also write the Teachers’ Pension Board. TPBT@pensionsbc.ca

Bill C27 – Still a Threat?

Bill C27 Update January 2018

Should the BCRTA still be concerned about Bill C-27? It had first reading on October 19, 2016 and lies apparently “dormant” in the federal legislative process. Some claim that the bill is “frozen” and poses no danger to us.

Yet, on November 1, 2017, when the NDP attempted to table a motion asking for the withdrawal of Bill C-27, the motion did not get enough support for consideration in the House of Commons.[1]  On January 11 of this year (2018) the Pension Commission of Manitoba raised the possibility of allowing for target-benefit and shared risk plans; the subsequent consultation will address pension regulatory issues including whether the rules should “allow for converting future benefits accruals only”.[2]  In other words, there is no assurance that current employees and retirees would not be affected by changes. The central idea of Bill C27 is still very much alive in governments across Canada.

What We Believe

The BCRTA Pensions & Benefits Committee believes that we must continue to fight Bill C-27. It poses a threat to Canadians who have pension security.  As a Committee member observed, “The intention for a law based on a bill such as Bill C-27 is not ‘if’ but ‘when’.

What BCRTA is Doing

We have made a great start! The Board thanks all of you advocates who have actively opposed Bill C-27.  Since our request for action last September, your feedback to Laurie in our office indicates that as of January 23, 2018

  • Over 85 contacts have been made. In one case, about 10 constituents visited an MP, and in another 34 endorsed a letter to an MP. We estimate that about 115 BCRTA members have been in touch with MPs.
  • 34 different MPs have been contacted, including the Prime Minister (7 written contacts), the Minister of Finance (one face-to-face contact, and 10 written contacts) and Robyn Benson, National President Public Service Alliance of Canada (1 email letter).  You may see the list of contacts we have tracked, and get involved.
  • Contacts have included face-to-face visits, letters, email letters, and phone calls, including one to MP Carla Qualtrough, whose office indicated that other calls had been received.
  • An analysis of our website hits indicates that many visitors are looking at our documents related to Bill C-27.  The visitors are from all over our province and as far away as Ottawa!

We hope you will continue your advocacy efforts on this important issue, and ask that you please urge your fellow branch members to keep up the pressure. Our goal is still 25 contacts for each MP and to contact the 16 MPs have not heard from us at all.

It has been pointed out to us that our written letters and emails will be even more powerful if, when writing, we cc (copy) parliamentary members of the opposition parties. (Peter Julian has been recently appointed NDP Finance critic and welcomes being copied on your emails and letters: peter.julian@parl.gc.ca. Pierre Poilievre is Finance critic for the Conservative official opposition party: pierre.poilievre@parl.gc.ca.  David Hachey is the Green Party’s Finance critic: david.hachey@greenparty.ca. And, of course, Minister Bill Morneau is the Liberal MP responsible for Finance: bill.morneau@canada.ca). Let them know we’re concerned!

If we wish to have Bill C-27 withdrawn, we need to let all of our Members of Parliament know that on behalf of all working and retired Canadians, we oppose Bill C-27.

What You Can Do Today

Make your views known – tell your member of parliament you want your pension security to remain intact. When you do, please tell BCRTA’s Laurie Boyd, laurie@bcrta.ca, about your contacts — whom you’ve contacted, type of contact, whether a reply was received and other details you wish to share – we will be able to show our members’ actions on this file. We thank you for your efforts. We are aiming to make a difference.

[1]  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ndp-want-liberals-withdraw-billc27-1.4382471

[2] http://www.benefitscanada.com/…/manitoba-pension-consultations-to-consider-target-benefit, shared risk plans

 

Bill C27 Activity Summary Report January 2018

BCRTA Pension Advocacy Activity Regarding Bill C27

Contacts Made to January 23, 2018

  1. MP Cathy McLeod, Con. Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo: visit by 10 retired teachers + one letter
  2. MP Joyce Murray, Lib. Vancouver Quadra: 1 letter
  3. MP Fin Donnelly, NDP, Port Moody – Coquitlam: 4 contacts — 1 letter, 2 emails + 1 “contact”
  4. PM Justin Trudeau, PM, Lib. MP for Papineau: 6 letters and 1 email
  5. MP Ron McKinnon, Lib. Coquitlam –Port Coquitlam: 1 email
  6. MP Finance Minister Morneau, Lib. Toronto Centre: 10 letters and one face-to-face encounter
  7. MP Nathan Cullen, NDP. Skeena—Bulkley Valley: 2 emails and a letter, one letter contained 34 signatures; RTA met MP Cullen at an Open House.
  8. MP Elizabeth May, Green. Saanich—Gulf Islands: 6 letters and 1 email,
  9. MP Todd Doherty, Con. Cariboo–Prince George: 12 contacts: 9 “messages” and 4 letters
  10. MP Alistair McGregor, NDP. Cowichan — Malahat — Langford: 2 letters
  11. MP Andrew Scheer, Con. Leader of the Opp, MP for Regina—Qu’Appelle: 1 letter, 1 email
  12. MP Peter Julian, NDP. New Westminster, Burnaby: 3 letters
  13. MP Ken Hardie, Lib. Fleetwood –Port Kells: 1 email
  14. MP Jenny Kwan, NDP. Vancouver – Mt. Pleasant: 1 letter sent by email
  15. MP Don Albas, Con. Central Okanagan — Similkameen — Nicola: 1 long visit + a letter
  16. MP Kennedy Stewart, NDP. Burnaby South: 1 letter
  17. MP Tom Mulcair, NDP. Outremont: 1 letter + 1 email
  18. MP Mel Arnold, Con. North Okanagan- Shuswap: 2 visits, one involving several people
  19. MP Stephen Fuhr, Lib. Kelowna – Lake Country: 1 visit and 1 letter
  20. MP Jane Philpott, Lib. Markham – Stouffville: 2 letters
  21. MP Scott Brison. Lib. Kings-Hants, President of the Treasury Board: 1 letter
  22. MP Diane Watts: Presently Lib leadership candidate BC: 1 letter
  23. MP Carla Qualtrough. Lib. Delta: 1 call – several other calls had been received
  24. MP Patty Hajdu, Lib. Min. of Employ’t, Work Force Dev, Labour: Thunder Bay-Superior: 1 letter
  25. MP Sheila Malcolmson, NDP. Nanaimo Ladysmith: 4 emails + 1 letter
  26. MP Murray Rankin, NDP.Victoria: 2 letters
  27. MP Rachel Blaney, NDP. North Island –Powell River: 3 emails
  28. MP Gord Johns, NDP. Courtenay—Alberni: 4 written contacts
  29. Robyn Benson, National President Public Service Alliance of Canada: 1 email
  30. Wayne Stetski, NDP. Kootenay—Columbia: 2 contacts
  31. Richard Cannings, NDP. South Okanagan — West Kootenay: 2 contacts and several others
  32. Pamela Goldsmith, Lib. West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast- Sea to Sky Country. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade: 3 phone calls and 1 email.
  33. Dan Ruimy, Lib. Pitt Meadows — Maple Ridge: 1 contact (email)
  34. Gordie Hogg, Lib. South Surrey — White Rock: 1 contact (call) + email
  35. Ed Fast, Con. Abbotsford: 1 letter — reply received
  36. MLA Judy Darcy, New Westminster: 1 letter
  37. MLA Claire Trevina, Campbell River: 1 letter
  38. MLA Michelle Stillwell, Parksville—Qualicum: 1 letter

Summary

Approximately 110 BCRTA members have engaged in the Bill C27 Advocacy, most writing, calling, or visiting directly, others advocating in groups either visiting MPs or signing onto a common letter. In some cases, such as in the Wine Country Branch, estimates were made for this analysis when it was reported that “several members had contacted the ‘riding’ MP.” Contacts have been made with 34 MPs – including the Prime Minister and Finance Minister — and 3 MLAs.

Some contacts (4) were made by people other than BCRTA members; they asked that their action be noted in our file.

The following BC MPs, to our knowledge, have had no contact at all:

John Aldag, Lib. Cloverdale – Langley City
Randeep Sarai. Lib. Surrey Centre
Sukh Dhaliwal, Lib. Surrey – Newton
Hedy Fry, Lib. Vancouver Centre
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Lib. Vancouver-Granville
Don Davies. NDP. Vancouver- Kingsway
Harjit Sajjan, Lib. Vancouver South
Jati Sidhu. Lib. Mission – Matsqui – Fraser Canyon
Terry Beech. Lib. Burnaby North – Seymour
Mark Strahl, Con. Chilliwack –Hope
Mark Warawa, Con. Langley – Aldergrove
Jonathan Wilkinson, Lib. North Vancouver
Bob Zimmer, Con. Prince George – Peace River –Northern Rockies
Alice Wong. Con. Richmond Centre
Joe Peschisolido, Lib. Steveston –Richmond East
Garrison Randall, NDP. Esquimalt – Saanich – Sooke

Pension and Benefits Committee Update Jan 2018

The committee made these recommendations that were passed by the Executive and are in process:

  • Cooperate with COSCO by providing technical support in the development of a petition opposed to Bill C-27
  • Hire an independent insurance consultant to review the financial reporting we receive from Johnson’s Insurance. We believe that we had had excellent service and reporting from Johnson’s but as part of our due diligence we want to have an independent expert’s confirmation as we move forward.
  • A letter has been written to the MSP task force supporting the replacement of premiums with increases in personal income and business taxes.
  • A letter has been sent to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health urging them to implement a national Pharmacare program.
  • A letter was written to the National Pensioners Federation in support of it’s campaign to restrict aggressive sales practices by large telecom companies.
  • We received a report from Dale Lauber, the Trustee that represents the retired members of the Teachers’ Pension Plan. An actuarial report is currently underway and we can expect positive news when it is finished and made public around September 1.

Well-being Updates

The Well-Being committee will be providing four pages of articles for the spring edition of PostScript including one on the present disjointed BC Pharmacare program, one on senior recreation involving Pickle Ball, one on a personal experience showing the need for a will, and an article on the need to keep on top of eye health. The Well-Being Committee is also asking Branch Presidents, when practicable, to survey their membership to identify specific factors in their region that either help to support or are a detriment to the well-being of members and seniors. The Well-Being Committee deems it part of their role to advocate and advance areas that either need improvement or provide improvement to senior well-being.

As the Well-Being Committee we are also asking BCRTA members or people that our BCRTA members may know to contribute articles on Well-Being topics to us for publication in PostScript magazine.

The definition of well-being is a broad definition lending significant opportunities for our members and the readership of PostScript to assist our committee in our support of member health and well-being. The definition is as follows: Well-Being is defined as the interconnectedness of the physical, mental, material, emotional, social and spiritual health of the members of the BCRTA including the awareness of developments and issues relating to the well-being of retired teachers and seniors in general.

Contribution may be sent to:
Terry Green/Chair Well-Being Committee at terry.green@bcrta.ca or if you have questions please call at (250) 494 1406.

Membership Initiatives

This year’s “complimentary first year membership” campaign has resulted in a significant increase in BCRTA membership. The campaign is being extended in the wake of its success. The Committee is also looking at some other innovative strategies for membership enhancement.

We are working with Tim Anderson of Alphabet Communications to develop some promotional “swag” for BCRTA members and potential members. We are looking at different types of items. If you have any good ideas about the kind of things we should offer with the BCRTA logo as promotional items, please forward your suggestions to Steve Bailey at steve.bailey@bcrta.ca.

We also met with Susan Stern representing our Members’ Advantage partnership with First Memorial / Dignity Funeral Services for an update and with Mark Costales of Johnson Inc. to discuss our relationship with Johnson Inc. in the context of our Members’ Advantage Program. The new BCRTA website should make it significantly easier for members to access information about our Members’ Advantage partners.

One of our partners, Park ’N Fly, has announced a new corporate schedule which is on their website. Using Park ’N Fly still results in a good savings for BCRTA members. Get the Park ’N Fly BCRTA code from Laurie at the BCRTA office. Also please remind your Branch members to use their BCRTA membership card to see if they can get discounts from local businesses.

The Pension Corporation pre-retirement workshops have begun again around the province. Please check their website (bcpc.pensionsbc.ca) to see if there is a session planned for your Branch area. If you are able to participate in one of these sessions to promote BCRTA membership, please let Laurie in the BCRTA office know ahead of time so that she can forward materials for you to distribute. Remember to email Marla Madelung at tppeducation@pensionsbc.ca to let her know someone from your Branch will be attending.

George Main, former Membership Committee member and member of the Communications Committee is working on important updates for our Branch Membership Enhancement Guide. The revised Guide will be posted on the website for easy access. There are lots of practical ideas to support your Branch life.

 

Communications Update

The November meeting of the Communications Committee was largely about acknowledging the progress being made in BCRTA communications so far, and looking at ways in which to keep the progress happening.

Tim Anderson of Alphabet Communications, hired on an initial, part-time, 3-month contract by the Board, met before our meeting with the IT subcommittee, to continue work on the BCRTA website—looking at ways to further improve it, and to keep it current. They looked as well at ways in which to make it easy and practical to have branches linked to, and kept up-to-date on the website. Ways of individualizing and improving member ‘interactiveness’ with the website are also being considered.

Postings to the BCRTA Facebook page are suspended for a while, while we consider questions like who should post to it, and what the appropriate sorts of things are that should be posted on it.

The PostScript and Liaison Priorities subcommittees are now considering similar questions to the IT subcommittee, regarding who decides on the material going into our print publications, and what rules, if any, should be adopted regarding the types of articles, and ads, that are appropriate. The Committee was pleased to hear from these two subcommittees, how well they had been able to work with Kristi, in the office, and Tim Anderson, in putting together the recent issues of their respective publications.

Speaking of Liaison Priorities… the Committee recommended, and the Board agreed, that Liaison Priorities will henceforth be known as BCRTA Connections.

Through the IT subcommittee we came up with recommendations that the Board later adopted: to investigate the purchase of a small-office-sized, large-ink-tank printer, for the use of Directors (and members visiting the office), and to engage the services of LightStream Communications to ‘perform an assessment, and to prepare a proposal regarding the technological requirements of the BCRTA office’. The subcommittee is also taking a look at lower-cost, group access to Microsoft Office for staff and Directors.

We hope that you, when you visit our website, and read PostScript and BCRTA Connections, are pleased with what you see. And we hope that you will let us know if you think of ways in which we might make BCRTA communications even better.

The TPP Cost of Living Increase is 1.6%

While the Board of Trustees hasn’t approved any cost of living increase to our Teachers’ Pension yet, the Canadian Consumer Price Index showed an increase of 1.6%, year over year, for the month of September. Since we know that the Inflation Adjustment Account has a healthy balance we can predict that our pensions will be increased by 1.6% beginning at the end of January. And once cost of living increases have been made they become part of our guaranteed pension.

How is it possible that our pension is in a healthy, sustainable position when the government and news reports that Defined Benefit Plans, like our, are unsustainable? Active teachers and their School boards contribute sufficient funds during the active member’s career. When that money is invested prudently over the life time of each member it becomes enough to pay the lifetime pension. You might be surprised to know that about 80% of the pension money you receive comes from investment income. About 10% for your pension is your original contribution coming back, about 10% is your employer’s contribution coming back, but the huge majority of your pension is investment returns. Our pensions are not subsidized by the taxpayers.

Interestingly, another Defined Benefit Pension Plan – The Canadian Pension Plan – has recently been shown to be sustainable for the next 75 years.

Sustainability of the CPP has been examined in this report: http://www.cppib.com/documents/1457/CPPIB_Sustainability_Backgrounder_Nov2016EN.pdf

So why is Bill C-27 still on the agenda of the federal government? Read https://bcrta.ca/target/