CSRA Newsletter Winter 2022
February 20, 2022
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We hope things are looking up where you are after a difficult winter with the setbacks caused by Omicron and all the accompanying conflict. The good news is your CUPE Staff Retirees Association had a good, forward-looking executive meeting in late January with most regional chapter reps in attendance. We were joined by our pension plan retiree trustee Nancy Parker, alternate trustee Brian Edgecombe, and CSU retiree rep Cheryl Colborne who all provided useful information that you’ll see reflected in this longer than usual newsletter. All are eager to continue working together.
New web site
Our new web site is up and running with thanks to Shelly Gordon and Graham Cox. The site has a new look and a new platform that allows us to update and add content ourselves without hiring outside help. While there’s still some fine tuning to do, you can find information and documents at cuperetirees.ca.
Several members were inconvenienced and left with late payment charges as a result of January pension deposits. CEPP retiree trustee Nancy Parker followed up immediately with the pensions department. Everyone should have received a letter from pension administrator Sylvie Ouellet outlining next steps. We have written to thank Sister Ouellet for her quick response and also repeated a request made in the past that RBC Investor & Treasury find a way to send electronic monthly statements instead of paper to those who request it. She will follow up.
Ontario Chapter Rep
We have had another change with the resignation of Kathy Johnson as Ontario chapter rep. The CSRA executive voted in February to appoint Barb Williams to fill the position to the end of this term. Thank you Kathy for your contribution!
If you have had support from CUPE’s Employee Assistance Program for the purchases of medical marijuana, you will have received a letter informing you that this is now covered under our benefits plan with Green Shield Canada. CSU retiree rep Cheryl Colborne informs us that this change was made without consultation and that GSC has stringent rules that go with coverage. CSU filed a policy grievance last September and is prepared to take forward any individual grievances resulting from this change. If you received this letter dated November 22, 2021 and the change has affected your coverage and you wish to grieve, please contact Cheryl at email@example.com or 778-888-0442. The deadline for filing is April 20, 2022.
CSU member and changed your address?
Cheryl also asked us to remind anyone who belonged to CSU and changed their address while actively at work or in early retirement to let CSU know about the change. The union has had some retirement cheques returned because of wrong addresses. You can send your updated contact information to CSU secretary-treasurer Lois-Ann Nichols-Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Pensioners Federation, virtual health care, and housing
Last October, Pat Daley and Barry Thorsteinson attended the National Pensioners Federation virtual convention as affiliate delegates. Several of the speakers really hit home.
Chris Parsons, from the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, spoke about virtual primary health care. Not only have many of us experienced this since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen our own benefits provider promoting virtual private clinics and counseling. Major players like Telus and Maple are buying up smaller service providers. At present, Parsons said, nobody is making money but instead are looking to the future when referrals to virtual pharmacies, physiotherapists, private surgical clinics, psychologists and more can be sold to employer and group benefit plans and government contracts. There is a whole new level of health care infrastructure being built by private interests.
CSRA has already raised with CUPE our concerns about Green Shield Canada promoting private virtual care and will continue to do so. Virtual care has a place but not at the expense of the ongoing relationship between patient and practitioner and the public health care system.
The second issue that is hitting many seniors is the cost and availability of housing, a problem exacerbated by the current rapid rise in food costs. There are almost 4.5 million renters in Canada and about one-fifth are aged 65 and older with a median income of $29,517. Half of those spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities and 16% spend more than half their income on those costs. CSRA New Brunswick and PEI chapter rep Clifford Hay tells us this is a real problem in NB where there are no rent controls and some seniors are seeing rent increases of 30% to 50%. More information can be found at https://www.nbtenants.ca/en/home or https://www.nbtenants.ca/fr/accueil/.
The National Pensioners Federation has also been lobbying for a United Nations Convention on Human Rights for Older Persons.
Long-term care remains a top of mind issue for many Canadians including CSRA members with parents or other loved ones experiencing true lockdowns during this pandemic.
In 2019 the Liberals ran on a promise to bring in national standards for long-term care. Last year the Health Standards Organization put together a panel of experts, operators, residents and family members to come up with recommendations. The draft standards were released in late January and are open for public comment until March 27.
We’re asking anyone interested in reviewing and commenting on the standards either individually or as an Association to get in touch with Shelly Gordon at email@example.com. You can see the draft Long-Term Care Services standard at https://healthstandards.org/publ.../long-term-care-services/.
Nancy Parker and other CUPE retirees have done some organizing around this issue with a particular focus on Revera. The fact that this chain is solely owned by the federal government through the crown corporation PSP Investments is particularly disturbing to many who are aware of this connection to federal public employee pensions. Nancy will keep us posted on this campaign through the CSRA Facebook page. Look for ‘CUPE Retirees’ if you haven’t already joined.
Delivering Community Power
NPF has asked affiliates to endorse Delivering Community Power, the campaign by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to expand the services offered by Canada Post, including a seniors’ check-in. The CSRA executive agreed at our January meeting to endorse this campaign and you can, too! Both organizations and individuals can sign on at deliveringcommunitypower.ca.
CUPE Division conventions
CUPE Divisions are beginning to look at holding in-person conventions this year. We hope where possible to be able to hold a retirees gathering with those in the vicinity meeting face-to-face and others joining virtually. If you’re interested please get in touch with your regional chapter rep. Names and contact information can be found at cuperetirees.ca
It’s an election year
Yes, the term of office for the current executive is up at the end of this year. Nominations and balloting can take a long time. Thanks to recommendations from the previous elections committee, we have guidelines aimed at streamlining the process. The first step will be to appoint a new elections committee early in the spring. If you are interested in being one of three committee members, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comings and goings
Since our last newsletter, the following retirees have become members. Welcome:
QC Daniel Dussault
ON Monique Diotte (National)
Ken Young (National)
May Fung (National)
Nelson Campbell (National)
SK Shelley Douan
BC Darlene Stone
With condolences to colleagues, friends and family, we also bid farewell to:
NS Betty Jean Sutherland
NB Adrien Charette
ON Darcie Beggs
BC Cynthia Wishart
Stay warm, stay safe, stay well and get ready for spring!
Pat Daley, President
Shelly Gordon, Vice-President
Barry Thorsteinson, Treasurer
Carole Lefebvre, Secretary