What’s Up with Extended Health Coverage?

It’s time for better EHC for retirees.

Group benefit plans harness the strength of thousands to provide security and benefits to individuals in the plan. As a teacher you enjoyed better benefits than most, with up to 80% of the costs paid by your employer.

EHC coverage changes in retirement. Everyone in the group is older, sometimes with higher claims, and there is no employer to share the cost. So EHC plans for retirees tend to offer lower benefit levels. But it is still better to be in an EHC group plan than to sign up for an individual plan directly with the insurance company – costs in such plans are often much higher.
EHC coverage should be clear, easy to use, reliable, fair, and treat subscribers with respect and compassion. A bad EHC experience might include confusing or conflicting guidelines, needless disputes, excessive paperwork and indifference toward you as a person.


The right choice in EHC plans is very important for peace of mind and security. The points at which you rely on coverage are often the most stressful times of your life. A caring, responsive insurer will make for much happier outcomes. You may realize just how bad your coverage is at your moment of greatest need.

Many retirees do not realize they have a choice of plans. For BC’s retired teachers, a “default” plan is the Green Shield coverage publicized by the TPP. The TPP does not own or run the plan, but contracts with Green Shield the right to be the default choice for new retirees. All residual funds of the Green Shield EHC plan stay with GSC. Many teachers are not aware of other options when they sign up. A common misunderstanding is that BCRTA is connected to the Green Shield plan. That is not the case.

For over 20 years, BCRTA has grown an alternative benefits plan, crafted in response to member needs. Our partner is Johnson Insurance, who bring a focus on personal service and “Best Friend Advice.” A portion of the Johnson Prestige EHC premiums paid by BCRTA members goes back into supporting the work of our association. We think of it as a “virtuous circle”: our members benefit from the bargaining power of our group, in a plan that builds the strength of our association to serve retirees.


BCRTA’s mission is the well-being of our members. That means we spend a lot of time listening to and advocating for retirees. What we have been hearing for some time is great frustration with EHC coverage. When the TPP switched providers from Blue Cross to Green Shield there was a marked increase in dissatisfaction. Members told us of difficulty in making claims, changing interpretations of coverage, and unresponsive or unsympathetic service agents. We heard it in person at branch meetings, in conversation, and by mail.

To gauge the size of the problem, over fifteen months we tracked every interaction our service desk had with members, making a note of the character of each of those conversations. We recorded dozens of complaints about EHC plans. Just 10.7% of those were about the BCRTA-Johnson EHC plan. A whopping 89.3% of complaints were about the Green Shield plan. Also note: this time period was well after the initial deluge of complaints about Green Shield coverage.

We expect to hear about any issues with the Johnson plan – after all, they are our partner, and we can follow up to resolve issues because we have direct access to the plan partners, and thousands of BCRTA members use it.

It is no small irony that the vast majority of complaints BCRTA receives are for the plan we do not sponsor. We provide information and any support we can regarding complaints about Green Shield EHC. People contact us because they have exhausted all other routes, or sometimes do not understand who offered the plan.


It is time to get this situation fixed. Our EHC survey will give us a statistically significant profile of how YOU feel about your EHC coverage. This confidential information will help BCRTA ensure that our EHC plan is the best it can be. The survey will also display for all retirees just what their peers think about each of the EHC plans.
We think the best approach to caring for people is to have open, informed conversation about facts. So here is your chance to share your stories, good or bad, and register your voice. We are listening to YOU.

Complete the survey now, in five minutes:


Excellence in Public Education Update June 2021

For a second year, public health restrictions due to COVID- 19 prevented the in person presentation of BCRTA’s Golden Star Awards. We received several applications from teachers who found safe, creative ways to offer intergenerational programs despite the pandemic. Like the recipients of the awards, we had to pivot and find another way to celebrate outstanding intergenerational programs in BC’s public schools.

Thanks to Zoom technology, Excellence in Public Education Committee members were able to attend all Golden Star Award presentations this year! This year, committee members located in Coquitlam, Nelson, the Okanagan and Vancouver joined virtual presentations to recipients in Coquitlam, Surrey, Thetis Island and West Vancouver. We had the enormous pleasure of speaking with teachers, students, seniors, a superintendent, principals, parents, a school board Trustee, and a care home representative, all through the magic of technology.The only things missing were the cake and ice cream.

This year, we celebrated presentations on June 1st, Intergenerational Day. Zoom took us to a classroom in White Rock where the grade 3-4 students had made golden star wands to wave at us as they said “thank you” in unison. From there we went to a beautiful forest in Surrey where the grade K-1 class called “thank you” from their outdoor classroom amidst towering evergreens. June 2nd found us across the water on Thetis Island where we enjoyed original presentations by K-7 students in their 100 year old one room school house. Next we joined recipients at an elementary school in Coquitlam where students expressed their gratitude through prose and poetry. Our final celebration was with recipients at Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver where senior students expressed their heartfelt thanks to BCRTA for the support received.

At every Golden Star Award event, each person who spoke emphasized that the benefits of intergenerational interactions are life changing for all participants. During the pandemic, the selected programs were key in combating the loneliness and isolation experienced by many seniors. Students benefited in important ways and, amongst many other attributes, developed empathy and an appreciation for the wisdom of seniors. Kudos to teachers Harriette Chang, Cecily Evans, Laura Fitzpatrick, Ellen Petersson, Genny Redman and Lisa Tomé for their dedication to excellence in intergenerational programming in BC’s public schools.

Many thanks to Kristi and Laurie at the BCRTA office for facilitating essential aspects of the Golden Star Awards program and to committee members Cheryl Halsted, Caroline Malm, Barb Mikulec and Grace Wilson for their work on behalf of BCRTA members.

Caroline Malm, Chair, Excellence in Public Education Committee

Protecting Public Health Care – Make the Pledge

The BCRTA board has moved to contribute a grant of $5000 in support of the BC Health Coalition Legal Defense Fund in support of their on-going intervener status in the Charter Challenge against Brian Day and the privatization of medial services as the case is being appealed to the BC supreme court. The case opens on June 14, 2021.

Below is a link to the “Take Action Pledge”. Please consider signing this pledge. It will build momentum in support for the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare.



Grace Wilson is President of BCRTA


Homeowner Grant Changes 2021 and other Well-being News

The Well-being committee is presently working on a number of issues:

  • Senior Care Issues arising from the pandemic – the committee would like to work closely with COSCO and the BC Seniors’ Advocate to clarify the issues, develop policy, and lobby for needed changes.
  • Housing for Seniors
  • The committee has agreed to work in conjunction with BCRTA staff to produce two webinars for the 2021-2022 year; ideas and content to be established by the committee at future meetings.

The committee would like to remind membership that this year there has been a change in how the Homeowner Grant works. Be sure to read your 2021 Property Tax Notice carefully and go online to apply at www.gov.bc.ca/homeownergrant.ca

Terry Green, Well-being Chair

ACER-CART Presents Health Event June 3 2021



The national organization of retired teachers ACER-CART presented a live online event on June 3, 2021 with two engaging speakers:

A National Seniors’ Strategy Could Mean Healthy Aging in Your Own Home
Dr. Samir Sinha

Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto

With 40,000 Canadians on waiting lists for Long Term Care, Dr. Sinha will explain how clear policy options exist that would enable ageing in place and the overall sustainability of our health care system. But will those policies be enacted?

A Powerful Case for Pharmacare
Dr. Steve Morgan

University of BC’s School of Population and Public Health

A compelling case for why Canada needs a national Pharmacare program, how it would improve our health and save money that could be directed to provide other health needs.

Johnson Insurance 2021 Scholarship Program

Children and grandchildren of BCRTA members can apply for a $1,000 scholarship.

Johnson Insurance 2021 Scholarship Program Opens April 15th, 2021

Since 1998, Johnson has awarded over 1500 scholarships and academic grants valued at more than $1 million to support young Canadians coast to coast in pursuing their post-secondary education.

This year, Johnson is  pleased to offer 50 scholarships worth $1000 each to students who fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • if you, your parent/guardian or grandparent have a home or car insurance policy through Johnson or MEDOC travel insurance policy or group benefits plan (such as health, dental or life insurance) through Johnson
  • if you, your parent/guardian or grandparent are a member in good standing of BCRTA  (policy not required)*

Students must complete high school in 2021 and must be beginning post-secondary education this fall or CEGEP (if living in the province of Québec).

For more information on applying, please see the online application form and Scholarship Program Guidelines and to obtain full requirements and submission instructions, please visit




Extended Health Care Insurance Satisfaction Survey

Our Survey is Complete

Thanks to all the members who participated!



Which plan suits your needs? If you would like a confidential review of your EHC options,  click here.

Spring into Motion – Online Event 10 AM April 22, 2021

BCRTA is pleased to invite you to an online event as we celebrate brighter days and bigger horizons to come. Join us for an informative live-streamed event!

BCRTA Spring 2021 Spa Package Giveaway! Enter by April 22 2021


Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to our winners!


Win a Spa Retreat Packages for You and a Friend


A package of getaway experience items delivered to each of you.
You may enter up to FIVE times – name a friend on each entry. Use the form below.

Contest closes April 22, 2021. Entry open to all BCRTA Members.

What’s Included

Original soy wax candle
Woodlot, Vancouver, BC
White peony tea
Anteeo Tea, Victoria, BC
Premium hand soap with essential oils
Atelier la Vie, Montréal, QC
Lemon infused raw honey
Mellifera Bees, Vancouver, BC
Old Town ‘Northern Lights’ soap
Anto Yukon, Carcross, YT
Personalized gift tag and greeting card
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC
Illustrated map of Canada gift box
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC
Fresh sheet story telling card
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC



The Government of BC has issued a progress update with projected dates for vaccine availability in British Columbia, by age group.

Here is a graphic that summarizes the plan:


Source: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0015-000355