PostScript Excellence Awards Recognize BCRTA Members

On October 4th, 2019, the BCRTA celebrated the inaugural PostScript Excellence Awards. Three BCRTA members were recognized for their contributions to PostScript Magazine.

Sheila Gair Award

First up was the Sheila Gair Award, named for PostScript’s long-time editor and columnist. This category recognizes the best Personal Experience Article.

The nominees were:

One Hand on the Wall by Leslie Davidson (Summer 2018)
Art of Ikebana by Lynda Grace Phillipsen (Fall 2018)
A New Course: Life Aboard SV Khamsin by Gillian West (Winter 2018)
Making a Difference for Moms by Kate Patten (Winter 2018)
Northern Adventure by Cheryl Hofweber (Winter 2018)
A Rediscovered Joy by Pat Thiesen (Spring 2019)
CO2 Challenge by Norman Gleadow (Spring 2019)

The winner was Pat Thiesen of Delta.

Pat Thiesen receives her PostScript Excellence Award from Tim Anderson

Best Travel Article

The PostScript Excellence Award for Best Travel Article had plenty of strong contenders. The nominees were:

Vamonos Guatemala by Bev Hiscock (Summer 2018)
Ocean House Haida Gwaii by David Wei and Suzanne Clouthier (Fall 2018)
Leaping Tiger Gorge by Ed Armstrong (Fall 2018)
Time to Get Smart (travel tips) by Lenora Klappe (Fall 2018)
Cuba: Mojitos and More by Gary Yakimow (Winter 2018)
Fez by Garry Litke (Spring 2019)

The winner was Garry Litke of Penticton.

Garry Litke receives his PostScript Excellence Award from JoAnn Lauber

 

Best Photo

A number of strong photos were published in the past year. Most were submitted as part of an article. Nominees for the PostScript Excellence Award for best Member photo were:

Ocean House Haida Gwaii by David Wei (Series ) (Fall 2018)
Leaping Tiger Gorge by Ed Armstrong (Fall 2018)
Havana by Gord Yakmow (Cover Winter 2018)
Tannery in Fez, Morocco by Garry Litke (Spring 2019)

Here are the photos:

Ocean House floating resort at Stads K’uns Gawga (Peel Inlet) Haida Gwaii by David Wei

 

Leaping Tiger Gorge by Ed Armstrong

 

Havana, by Gord Yakimow

 

Tannery at Fez, Morocco by Garry Litke

The winner was David Wei.

David Wei receives his PostScript Excellence Award from Charan Gill.

Congratulations to all our winners and thanks to all contributing BCRTA members who together make PostScript Magazine a unique treasure.

Dale Lauber Awarded Life Membership

A highlight of the 2019 BCRTA AGM was the recognition of Dale Lauber for his many years of service to the association. Lauber was named a Life Member by the assembly, the highest honour conferred upon BCRTA members.

BCRTA President Gerry Tiede noted that Dale served on the Teacher Pension Plan Board of Trustees for some 18 years, first in his role as a pensions specialist with the BC Teachers Federation, and later as a retiree himself. All this experience proved invaluable for Dale’s service on the BCRTA Pensions and Benefits committee for many years.

More recently, Dale served as BCRTA’s representative on the board of the Canadian Association of Retired Teachers (ACER-CART).

Dale also teamed up with JoAnn Lauber to champion an intense lobbying action to protest the federal government’s introduction of Bill C-27 which would erode the security of defined benefit pension plans. The campaign resulted in over fifty petitions being presented in the House of Commons, and Ottawa insiders reported that the constant attention to the issue was a factor in the government not pressing forward on their plans. The bill died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament, but Lauber warned the BCRTA that renewed attempts to undermine pension security are likely to made in the coming years.

Dale’s acuity for policy and numbers is complemented by a spirit of bonhomie, a ready laugh, and a wide network of contacts developed over the years.

Delegates stood and applauded as Dale walked to the platform and received a certificate. In his comments, Lauber remarked that now his office will be “balanced” with a Life Membership certificate on the wall over his desk, as that will match the Life Member award over his wife JoAnn’s desk, an honour conferred upon JoAnn just last year. Among Dale’s plans for the coming year are joining the BCRTA group departure to Morocco and Portugal in February 2020.

Thank you, Dale, for your outstanding service to our organization and to retirees in British Columbia and across Canada!

AGM Elects 2019-2020 Board of Directors

Front row: Steve Bailey ACER-CART Rep, Patricia Clough Past President,
Gerry Tiede President, Grace Wilson 1st VP, Arnie Lamber 2nd VP, Janice Androssoff
Back row: Pat Thiesen, Elaine Thompson, Sterling Campbell, Dave Scott, Caroline Malm,
Terry Green, Floyd Smith

The 2019 BCRTA AGM elected directors for the 2019-20 year.

Returning as President for a second year is Gerry Tiede. Grace Wilson was elected to a second one-year term as 1st Vice-President, and Arnie Lambert re-joins the board, elected this time as 2nd Vice-President.

Elaine Thompson of Smithers joins the board for the first time as a director. As an experienced committee member and president of her branch, Elaine also brings a voice from the northern zone to the board of directors. Terry Green was re-elected to another two year term as a director from outside the Lower Mainland.

From the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region, Pat Thiesen of Delta joins the board for the first time, and Floyd Smith of Surrey was re-elected for another two-year term.

After a year’s absence, Steve Bailey was once again elected as ACER-CART representative.

Directors who continue with one year remaining on their terms include Sterling Campbell, Caroline Malm, Janice Androssoff and Dave Scott. Patricia Clough is Past President.

Election 2019: Party Responses to ACER-CART Seniors’ Issues

The Canadian Association of Retired Teachers (ACER-CART) is a national body that BCRTA works within to advocate for the needs of retired teachers and seniors in a federal context. ACER-CART recently sent a series of four questions about seniors issues to the major political parties. Three of the parties responded.

View the responses here (PDF file).

About the ACER-CART 2019 Election Questions for Candidates

BCRTA cooperated with the Canadian Association of Retired teachers to write and distribute an election issues brochure to prepare our members for the 2019 Federal Election. BCRTA is a non-partisan association and we do not endorse a party, but we do work hard to focus attention on the issues that affect seniors. We identified four issues that apply to retired teachers and all seniors:

1. Pension Security

2. National Pharmacare Plan

3. Opposition to the privatization of medical services

4. A National Seniors Strategy on Healthy Aging.

The questions submitted to the parties were general questions that addressed each of the four issues. More detailed questions suitable for dialogue with a candidate are in the booklet.

You can download the resource from our website at: bcrta.ca/2019electionbook/

How to use the brochure:

• Use this background information to help understand and determine your own priorities.

• Use these questions when candidates or their agents phone you seeking support.

• Use this brochure when you are talking with friends and family about the election issues.

• Use the information and questions when you attend All-Candidates meetings. Ask all candidates the same questions.

• Use the answers you get from the candidates to determine who you will vote for.

Ireland Group Departure March 2020 – a BCRTA Exclusive Offer

Our second BCRTA Group Departure is now available!

Early bird pricing before September 27

Shades of Ireland with Northern Ireland
Join Bob and Di Taverner: March 26th, 2020

Available to BCRTA members exclusively.

For access to this offer use offer code

BCRTATM18

Please note: Our last group departure sold out quickly! Limited number of seats available for this exceptional tour.

2019 BCRTA Conference & AGM

 

NOTICE of 2019 AGM

74th Annual BCRTA Annual General Meeting (9:30am)

called for Saturday, October 5th, 2019

at the Vancouver Hilton Airport Hotel

5911 Minoru Blvd, Richmond, BC

click here to get your copy of the 2019 Summary of Reports

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

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

 

June Finance Updates

June is the month that BCRTA sets our budget, and a time when we review year-to-date results. For the current 2018-2019 fiscal year a projected budget deficit of $33,415 was approved at the 2018 AGM. This year we found that fewer teachers are retiring, so our membership growth was not quite as high as we anticipated. As we reviewed the trends, directors heightened their awareness of spending, without slowing our efforts to serve members through projects in progress and organizational momentum. A detailed review by staff of all business expenditures resulted in some savings. Some directors also found savings by having fewer committee meetings when possible, saving on travel costs. The result is that while income was slightly below projected, expenses were significantly less than budgeted and BCRTA is not in a deficit position for this year.

For the coming year 2019-20, the Finance Committee is taking a cautious but more confident approach to projected revenue and expenses. For clarity of reporting, the expense section of the projected budget will look slightly different. It will enable Directors to easily track committee expenses and will also be more transparent for members. The Board will be recommending a budget with a small deficit of just over $3,000.

To continue to provide and increase services to members, the Board will also be recommending a fee increase to $42 for the following 2020-2021 year, which begins on July 1, 2020. This five percent increase will be the first change to fees in three years, and tracks with inflation.

In May the Finance Committee formed an ad hoc committee to review committee members’ travel and accommodation eligibility. The purpose of the review was to bring clarity, consistency, and standard administrative procedures for handling expense claims. The following changes will be added to expense vouchers and the BCRTA handbook.

  • Hotel accommodation for Metro area members will be provided if they live further than the Surrey/Langley border.
  • In the event a BCRTA Director or member is required to attend multi-day meetings, then he/she may obtain overnight accommodation to facilitate attendance at these meetings.
  • Travel and/or accommodation requests that fall outside of existing policy must have prior approval of the Finance Committee Chairperson.
  • No reimbursement will be made for any unauthorized expenses until authorization has been obtained.
  • In the Guide to BCRTA Zone Meeting Expenses:
  • 5 (c) the rate for hotel accommodation shall be no more than $145.00 plus tax per night.

Please note that travel and/or accommodation requests that fall outside of existing policy will be considered on the basis of time, combined cost (e.g., road + air), weather conditions and disabilities.

Travel reimbursement has been increased to $ .54 per km. This is in keeping with the new BCTF rate.

Grace Wilson
1st VP and Treasurer