Some (More) Sage Advice for Retirees and Seniors

Keep the Health You Have

Keep a healthy life. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick and then it gets harder to recover and remain healthy. Prevention is always the simpler way. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical, physical, mental and social needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, and follow through with tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.

Know Your Treasures

Go ahead and buy those beautiful items you can afford for your significant other. This especially includes experiences you share. Enjoy what you have worked so hard to gain with your partner. There will come a day when one of you will be missing the other and all the wealth you have will not provide much comfort then. Take time to enjoy what you have now, together.

BCTRA Well-Being Committee

Tax Tips for Retired Educators

2018 Tax Season – Make A Check list

BCRTA does not offer income tax advice, but here are some common deductions to help you complete your return to your maximum advantage.

ELIGIBLE MEDICAL DEDUCTIONS

Any eligible medical costs that you pay that exceed 3% of your net income can be deducted when you complete your income tax return this year. A couple usually should combine all medical expenses on one tax return – usually the one with the lowest income – to gain the highest value deduction.

Eligible medical expenses are those payments made by you or your spouse that were not fully reimbursed by an insurance plan. Some examples that you should explore:

  • Prescribed medications
  • Payments to a medical doctor, dentist, and most paramedical service providers such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapy, etc.
  • Access the complete list of eligible expenses at www.canada.ca. Type ‘eligible medical expenses’ in the search window.
  • Premiums that you paid for any health service plan but not MSP. If you pay for your benefits directly from your Teachers’ Pension the deduction will show in Box 135 of your T4A.
    If you participate in our Johnson’s with Prestige Travel Plan you should have received a letter that itemizes your claimable premiums as well as your claims history that shows your eligible deduction.
  • If you participate in MEDOC and have requested a letter that shows the eligible amount of premiums in a previous year you should have received it already. If you have never requested one, call Johnson’s at 1.800.563.0677 and you will automatically receive one every year.
  • If you are signed up for Extended Health Coverage with Green Shield and premiums are deducted from your Teacher’s Pension Plan payments, GSC premiums are always shown in Box 135 of the T4 you received from TPP. See more about tracking GSC claims at www.bcrta.ca/gscclaims

Age tax Credit

If you were 65 or older on Dec. 31, 2018 you may be able to claim an age tax credit. The credit is geared to income with the maximum discount for those whose income is less than $36,976 and it gradually is eliminated as your income increases. There is a corresponding provincial tax credit as well. This deduction can also be transferred to a spouse. Search for Line 301 – Age amount on the Canada.ca website for the full information.

Need help filing your return?

There are several low-cost or free tax filing programs available on-line. Search for “on-line tax filing.”
There are also many volunteer run tax preparation clinics at Seniors’ and Community Centers around the province. A listing can be found at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/vlntr/clncs/bc-eng.html or call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.

CRA Scams

Be on the alert for phone calls, e-mails or letters pretending to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency. If you receive one of these, provide NO information. Rather contract CRA directly by calling 1-800-959-8281 or check your CRA My Account on-line.

To see Revenue Canada’s longer list
of tax credits for seniors, visit:
www.bcrta.ca/tax-tips-2

teacher regulation branch certification FAQ

Teacher Certification – Are You Current?

The demand for teachers on call has never been higher, and it’s a great way to supplement your retirement income. But keeping up your certification is important. PostScript asked the Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB) to answer some common questions.

Who is required to have a teaching certificate issued by the TRB?

Anyone who teaches in BC’s K-12 education system must have and maintain a teaching certificate from the Ministry of Education issued by the TRB. This include the public, independent and offshore school systems where the BC curriculum is taught. A teaching certificate is required not only for classroom teachers but also for school administrators (such as superintendents, principals and vice principals). It is suggested that those planning to teach in the system also have and maintain a teaching certificate.

How do I maintain my teaching certificate?

Under the Teachers Act, you are required to pay an annual practice fee of $80 to maintain your teaching certificate. Ensure your payment is made through the TRB by May 31 each year to avoid a late fee. If your annual practice fee and late fee are not received by June 30, your certificate will be suspended, and an additional late fee will be applied. If your fee and late fees are not received by October 31, your certificate will be cancelled. Note that if you are employed by a public school board or an independent school authority, the annual practice fee will be deducted from your pay cheque and remitted by your employer on your behalf.

Under the Criminal Records Review Act, you must also authorize a criminal record check every five years to maintain your certificate. The TRB facilitates the requirement by collecting your authorization for a check and submitting it to the Criminal Records Review Program of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General who will perform the check.

I didn’t maintain my teaching certificate. How do I re-certify?

If you relinquished your certificate or your certificate was cancelled or has expired, you will need to apply for a new certificate. To qualify for a new certificate, you must meet the certification requirements in place at the time you apply. However, because you previously held a certificate, you may not be required to re-submit all of the required documents. The TRB will bring forward as many records as possible from your previous certification file.

How will I know when to pay my annual practice fee or authorize a criminal record check?

Keep your contact information (telephone number, email address and mailing address) updated with the TRB so that you will receive important notices about these requirements in a timely manner. In addition, at any time, you can log into Your Account online to change your contact information and to view up to date information regarding your payment and criminal record check status and history.

What if I have more questions about these requirements?

You can find additional information regarding the certification requirements and the application process online under the Certificate Services tab at https://www.bcteacherregulation.ca.
Alternatively, you can phone the TRB and speak to a Certification Representative at (604) 660‑6060.

Shawn McMullin is Director of Professional Excellence and Outreach, Teacher Regulation Branch, BC Ministry of Education

Endless Savings and More

Discounts on your Smart Phone for BCRTA Members

Download the BCTRA version of the ESM App and save on everyday purchases from hundreds of businesses including national chain retailers, service and travel providers.

To get the ESM App, go to your app store (Google or Apple).

When you first download the ESM App, you will be asked for the “organization code” for BCRTA. It is: bcrta

For complete details, view the
BCRTA Welcome Letter
(http://www.esmobileapp.com/files/WelcomeBCRTA.pdf)

 

BCRTA looks at Universal Pharmacare in Canada

There has been an increasingly comprehensive discussion in Canada regarding a move to establish a universal, single-payer, Pharmacare plan in Canada. In late 2016 the Parliamentary Budget officer put out a report indicating there would be substantial savings over the long term in having such a program. A more recent report by the House of Commons Committee on Health has also looked favourably on such an option for Canadians and Dr. Eric Haskins was appointed to develop an implementation plan for the federal government.

The Broadbent Institute has also produced a report written by Greg Marchildon and Andrew Jackson. This report is clear and succinct and easily read and understood. The report outlines the history of working towards a national and universal Pharmacare program that began in the mid-twentieth century and has continued to be advanced to the present day. The report outlines the history of Pharmacare, the status of the hodgepodge of public and private plans operated at the provincial and territorial levels, and discusses two approaches to providing a national and universal Pharmacare program. One option is to have the federal government oversee through legislation, national standards, and funding to the provinces and territories who would assure a universal program in their jurisdiction. The other is to have the federal government finance, administer, and regulate a national single-payer program for all of Canada. The report then discusses their preference for the second option.

The question of a universal, single-payer, pharmacare program is becoming much more of a necessity than a topic of discussion as the present status of prescription medications is seeing significant cost increases for individual Canadians, the recognition that Canadians cannot afford their prescription medications, and the ever increasing costs of private health benefit plan premiums for those fortunate enough to be able to afford such a plan. The Well-Being Committee of the BCRTA is presently preparing a petition to present to members and others in support of a national universal and single-payer pharmacare plan and would encourage your support of our efforts by reading the excellent report from the Broadbent Institute.

Terry Green
Chair – BCRTA Well-Being Committee

HERITAGE NEWS: BCRTA HISTORY PROJECT

The Heritage Committee is preparing a BCRTA history for the years 2000 to the present. We would appreciate any pictures or news stories you have in your files. Some suggested items are pictures of speakers at our AGMs, installation of plaques, Golden Apple Awards, special events in your branch. Some items in the history to 1999 came from branch newsletters. Items can be e-mailed or sent as hard copy. If you want hard copies returned, be sure to label them or send instructions. Send materials to:

janice.androsoff@bcrta.ca

or

Janice Androsoff, Heritage Chair
c/o BCRTA
550 West 6th Avenue, Suite 100
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4P2

Video Initiative from Communications

The Communications Committee, like all our Board committees, is reviewing its role and the appropriate Policy and Procedure sections of the BCRTA Handbook. This is an opportunity to review and remind ourselves of the work we do as volunteers for the BCRTA, and update sections of the Handbook as the organization continues to grow. As a member-led organization with staff, we balance roles and responsibilities to reflect this.

The Committee is pleased to report that readership of both PostScript and Connections continues to grow. Members are, as always, encouraged to submit articles/ideas/suggestions via email either at postscript@bcrta.ca or connections@bcrta.ca

The IT sub-committee with the help of BCTF production staff had a successful round of video interviews with Directors and with members of a number of BCRTA Committees. Sterling Campbell and Dave Scott were wonderful interviewers, putting us at ease and making the experience both interesting and exciting. The questions ranged from why we value the BCRTA, to why retirees should join the BCRTA, to what we personally are doing to have a successful retirement. This material will be used in our Pension Workshops and to promote ourselves to retired educators around BC.

With this early success, it may be that new careers are opening up for some of our group! Interviews with our Board and special guests will continue throughout the coming year.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Charan Gill
Chair, Communications Committee

Revolutionary Thoughts for Retirees and Seniors

At different stages of our lives there are many pressures that we face and this is true for those of us on our journey as seniors and retirees. Here are a couple thoughts you might wish to reflect on. They may be counter-intuitive.

Don’t Be Frugal.

It’s time to use the money you have saved up. Use it and enjoy it. Don’t just keep it for those who have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Also remember, there is nothing more dangerous than other people with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. So heed this warning: This is usually a bad time for risky investments even if they seem wonderful or fool-proof. They only bring problems and worries. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace, quiet, and enjoyment out life.

Your Kids Need Your Love, Not Your Money.

Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and/or grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. You’ve taken care of them for many years and you’ve taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter, and support. The responsibility is now for them to take flight and fly for themselves.

Life is Serious Business. Until You Have Some Fun.

Who knows, by watching you, your kids might learn a few things about self-care in the senior years!

BCRTA Well-Being Committee

Finance Updates January 2019

Between the end of November and the end of January we signed up 91 new members.

An executive review of our PST expenses showed that we were paying the provincial tax on the printing of our publications, though such spending is PST-exempt. Office staff combed through the last four years of printing bills, submitted a claim and in January the BCRTA received a refund cheque from the BC Minister of Finance for $16,500.

The Board has authorized the purchase of some new computer equipment, as our existing systems have completed their depreciation cycle, and in some cases were no longer supported. The need for reliability in our data and backup systems made the purchase a number one priority. A new backup system is now in place. We are also pleased to inform you that we can now accept payments using credit cards in person and by phone.

Also on the technology and systems front, the BCRTA is working with our auditor to identify and implement accounting software solutions that will meet the needs of our changing organization.

In every household, there comes a time when the accumulation of material becomes such that there is a need to purge. That time arrived in the BCRTA photocopy room in November and continues. Apart from “just house cleaning” the necessity of rearranging office space was imperative. The executive director needs an office and board members will benefit from a discrete work/meeting space. To that end the Finance Committee recommended and the Board agreed to spend up to $20,000 from the Growth and Expansion Fund for renovations to our existing office space and up to $10,000 for furniture/fixtures from the Capital Fund. Authorization, labour and timelines for this renovation are under the jurisdiction of the BCTF as they own the building.

Finally, we continue to seek efficiency in spending and investing. One GIC matures in February and a decision has been made to cash that in and hold it in our high interest (1.85%) cash account until needed.

Grace Wilson
1st VP and Treasurer

National Petition for Pension Security Launched by ACER-CART

The Canadian Association of Retired Teachers (ACER-CART) has posted an e-petition on the House of Commons petition site to encourage government to increase the security of retirement income. The petition seeks to minimize attempts to cause seniors to surrender rights to their earned pensions, and also to provide insurance for pensioners when their failed employers cannot or will not fulfill the promises they made.

As part of this initiative, ACER-CART has made information available on the website pensionsecurity.ca which provides the wording of the petition and links to sign it.

The rationale for this new petition:

  • The number of defined benefit pension plans in Canada have declined even though they are the most efficient and secure way to fund retirement income.
  • The introduction of Target Benefit plans, whereby members surrender their secure defined pension benefits, would transfer the risk to plan members, which inevitably reduces pension payments to vulnerable seniors.
  • Private sector pension plans members, like Sears Canada employees, suffer when a business closes because the pension plan promises are at the lowest priority, behind investors, management bonuses and corporate profits.

This petition asks government to affirm the principle that pension promises cannot be broken for any service that has already been earned.  It also asks government to protect the pensions of retirees by providing an insurance plan, paid for by pension plans, that would guarantee the benefits of retirees if their plan closes.

See the wording of the petition.

You may participate in this e-petition even if you have already participated in previous paper petitions concerning Target Pension Plans as this petition language is different.