Summer is Here

Why We Shouldn’t Retire From Our Mid-year Break

Do you remember that feeling as the last week of the school year approached? You could almost smell and taste the offerings of a summer break! Do you remember that feeling of exhaustion as the countdown took place to have exams finished and marked, reports cards written, and final year end activities concluded? That fatigue may have signified a good feeling, knowing that the effort and energy you expended had been rewarded by the progress of students moving on to another grade or a higher level of education. The fatigue may have been because even though you had worked so hard the support for your students was not there. You may have felt a sense of guilt that you should somehow have done more (but how?). You may have been angry that resources and time were in short supply.

But then came the final day of school. Chalk boards wiped clean, books put away, your desk and shelves tidied. You collected the classroom plants, stripped the walls of the past year decorations, and made your humble good-byes to the tired staff and administration. Rest, relaxation, sleep, family time, and chores of a more banal nature beckoned. What a sense of needed relief!

Now that we don’t live our lives by the bell, we as retirees may forget that uplifting sense of relaxation, that important act of “letting go”. The first day of summer break was a time of not having to dwell on the prospects of the future, or even the year ahead. It was time to step aside from the daily musings of what had worked well in the past and what needed to be rethought and improved. It was time to get away and find ourselves again.

It is important for retired educators to remember the benefits of the cycle of teaching. Let’s make sure that in July and August we take time to listen to the warm winds, to smell the flowers blooming in the gardens, to laugh and giggle with the children around us. It is the right time to slow down, breathe deeply, and let our minds wander into the daydreams of summer. It is time to soak up the sound of water lapping on the shore and gurgling down the creeks and streams. It is time to fall asleep on the hammock as we read a good book. When we worked we lived for the students that we taught but we also lived for the rejuvenation of summer; for the green of the trees, the cheerful colour of the blossoms of high season, the warm hugs of the air, the grace of blue skies and wispy clouds.

As we come to the end of another school year, the Well-being Committee of the BCRTA wishes you an uplifting, enjoyable, and relaxing season. We hope you are able to enjoy free time and the freedom of mind to let go and truly sense the beauty and peace that come with the breezes of summer.

Terry Green is chair of the BCRTA Wellness Committee.

Seeking Mentors En Francais

Intéressé(e) à partager votre expérience avec une jeune personne enseignant en F.I. ou ‘Core French’?

Vous êtes à la retraite? Francophone? Ou vous maîtrisez le français?

Alors ce projet est pour vous 😊



Il s’agit d’abord d’avoir du plaisir à partager son expérience : Ce programme consiste à jumeler des bénévoles aîné(e)s francophones (ou maîtrisant le français) de 50 ans et plus avec des jeunes personnes enseignant en F.I. ou ‘Core French’ dont le français n’est pas leur langue première en les faisant participer à des activités culturelles et communautaires, sans les élèves et, à l’extérieur de la salle de classe.

Régions desservies à l’automne 2018

Vancouver – Okanagan Valley – Kootenays – Prince George – Campbell River – Courtenay – Nanaimo

Durée du projet?

Octobre 2018 à février 2019 : ± 5 sorties en ± 5 mois.


Nous défrayons les coûts reliés aux ± 5 activités jusqu’à concurrence de 100$ par personne.


sur le site de l’AFRACB:
par courriel:

par téléphone : 778.747.0138


Ce projet est financé en partie par le Gouvernement du Canada

Stroke More Deadly for Women: HSF Report

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recently released a troubling report about women and stroke.

In its 2018 stroke report, it says:

  • One-third more women die of stroke than men in Canada.
  • Women are 60% less likely to regain their independence and tend to have a lower quality of life after a stroke.
  • They’re less likely to return home after a stroke and twice as many women as men go to long-term care following a stroke.

In 2014, Stacey Yepes of Thornhill, Ont., videotaped herself in the throes of a stroke. Since then, her stroke selfie has gone viral, and has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.

Kas Roussy checked in on Yepes, now 53, to see how she’s coping following the traumatic event. Here’s a condensed version of that interview:

Q: Your video has been viewed more than a million times. How do you feel about that?

It’s overwhelming. I get so many people that have sent messages. Who knew the significance it would play and the role in saving lives? I am just overwhelmed.

Q: How have you coped since the stroke?

After I had my stroke, I did about three months of rehabilitation at Sunnybrook Hospital, twice a week. I had no idea what rehab entailed. I had a real problem being able to unscrew a water bottle. They have a peg board that had all different sizes of nuts and bolts to get that capability back.

Q: How has your life changed since the stroke?

I’m thankful for every day, but I’m still living with the side effects. I’m at high risk of another stroke, so I have limitations at work, in a law firm. I still feel the numbness or tingling if I’m tired. I’m on blood thinners. That’s a lifelong thing.

Q:  Any advice for other women who’ve had a stroke?

Even if you’ve been treated, if you experience something different, or you’re not certain, don’t settle on “Everything is OK or just normal.” Be diligent. Be your own advocate. Go see your doctor.

A version of this article was originally published by with material from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Finance Updates June 2018

Growing the membership base was the number one goal of the BCRTA this year. The Finance Committee has been monitoring the areas of our budget that are affected by membership growth. It is clear that through the one year free membership, the new website, the Johnsons’ Insurance plans and our retirement workshops, we are meeting our goal for increased members. Our progress in implementing these changes for growth included the hiring of Tim Anderson as our Executive Director beginning in June.

While the BCRTA does not have an abundance of funds in our contingency fund, last year the auditor that examined our books suggested that we run a deficit budget to keep these funds in use so that as a non-profit organization we would not be flagged by Revenue Canada. To that end, we designated usage for some of those contingency funds, tightened up the procedures for accessing those funds and proposed a deficit budget for last year. Despite budgeting for a deficit, we are happy to report due to an increase in revenue beyond the budgeted amount we actually achieved a budget surplus this past year.

The auditor is coming! Each year we have the Associations’ finances professionally audited as part of our established reporting process. BCRTA Office Administrator Kristi Josephson has been preparing for this intense review. To support her in this task, all Branch treasurers must send their treasurer’s report, along with their June bank statements, to Kristi by July 31.

The board is recommending to the 2018 AGM that the fee for BCRTA membership be $40.00 (as approved by members at last year’s AGM) and that KPMG continue as the auditor for the coming year. The proposed budget for 2018-2019 is a deficit budget but the deficit amount is considerably smaller than the deficit proposed for last year.

The finance sub-committee that was established by the board to examine investing outside of GICs has done its work, has been thanked for its report and the committee wrapped up.

Comox Valley Branch Renewed

The Comox Valley RTA Executive: (left to right) Treasurer Linda Wilkinson, Social Director Sylvia Dakin, President Devon Deputter,  Secretary Judy Berry
Absent: Members at large Barb Angell, Lynn Hodge and Joan Southern

A Fresh Start

Sterling Campbell, a director of the BCRTA, and zone representative for the North Central Island shares some exciting news from Comox: The Comox Valley Retired Teachers’ Association has been renewed!

The BCRTA has a significant history in the Comox Valley but, as sometimes happens, the local branch had experienced a low season in recent years.

Sterling reports, “Four years ago the former executive recommended that the branch be dissolved. I felt as Zone Director that it was time this year to revisit the establishment of the branch. I was fortunate to have the able assistance of fellow North Central Island zone director Stefan Cieslik. It is gratifying to be associated with such a dynamic executive who I’m sure will provide strong branch leadership.”

The Comox branch will provide a local hub for the several hundred BCRTA members who live in the Comox Valley.

Congratulations to the Comox branch and special thanks from the BCRTA to Sterling Campbell and Stefan Cieslik for their initiative and leadership on this project.

Canadian Medical Association Seniors Survey

The national body of retired teachers ACER-CART is notifying retired teachers across Canada about an online survey regarding Seniors Health Care, created by the Canadian Medical Association.

This survey asks a series of simple questions in order to understand the different dynamics that represent people’s experience with seniors care. It gives you as a citizen a chance to express how you feel about the health care system’s ability to adequately meet the seniors care needs that you and your family will have. Results from the survey will assist in the CMA’s advocacy for quality public health care.

Participate in the survey by visiting

Roger Wong

PostScript Magazine is pleased to introduce Dr. Roger Wong as a contributor. Roger’s deep knowledge, teaching skills and engaging manner make him a wonderful partner in the advancement of well-being for our members and for seniors in general.

Dr. Wong is Executive Associate Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia (UBC), a geriatrics specialist doctor, clinical professor of geriatric medicine, the 13th President of the Canadian Geriatrics Society, and a TEDx speaker. He is also the second Canadian – and the first UBC professor – to be selected by the British Geriatrics Society as a Trevor Howell Guest Lecturer, which recognizes eminent physicians or scientists with an international reputation. He tweets at @RogerWong10 and is recognized internationally as a thought leader in geriatrics, aging and medical education.

Here is Roger’s recent TEDx talk, “How to keep your elderly parents safe and in their home longer.”

MEDOC Adds More Coverage

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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