Association of Dalhousie Retirees and Pensioners

Quarterly Newsletter        volume 2, number 1, Fall 2003

 

Upcoming Events - Mark your calendars!

 

Thursday, November 6, 2003, 7pm.  Talk by Dr Kenneth Rockwood on how to

age successfully and in good health.  Ken gave us a very interesting and

too brief talk on issues of aging at the CURAC conference.  Come and hear

a more extensive discussion. Tupper Building Floor 6 Room L1.

 

Wednesday, December 10, 2003, 2-4 pm.  Annual holiday gathering at the

University Club in the Pub.

 

Tuesday, February 10, 2004, 7-9pm.  Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

Update on income tax and have your questions answered.  Tupper Building

Floor 6 Room L1.

 

 

Membership 2003

 

Our membership year is quickly growing to a close, and there are about 80

members who have not paid their dues to date.  If you are one of these,

please send your cheque for membership fee in the amount of $20.00 to:

Blanche Potter, 2623 Fuller Terrace, Halifax, N.S. B3K 3V8, or drop it by

the ADRP Office - there is a mail slot in the door.  If we do not hear

from you, we can only regrettably assume you no longer wish to be a member

of ADRP.

 

 

A Few Words from the President, Tarun Ghose

 

The next Annual Conference of CURAC/ARUCC will be held in Winnipeg on May

27    and 28, 2004.  The programme theme of this conference is "Building

Relationships".  The Conference will look into existing national and

provincial legislation and regulations affecting retirees.  Of particular

interest will be identifying the government departments that have specific

responsibilities for programmes and services for retirees.  John Mundie,

Chair, Local Conference Committee, has been able to gather a very

knowledgeable group of speakers to address these issues.  I strongly

encourage ADRP members to attend this Conference.  Rooms have been booked

in a nearby Holiday Inn.  Rates are $84.00 per night for regular rooms and

$104.00 per night for deluxe rooms.

 

Pensions and supplementary health benefits are the two major concerns of

all retirees' organizations - including CURAC/ARUCC at the national level

and organizations such as ADRP at the local level.  CURAC/ARUCC has

already began to determine the needs of the various university retiree

associations.  For example John R. Meyer, University of Windsor, has

compared the post-retirement health benefits of 42 Canadian universities.

A perusal of the available data confirms the deplorable situation of post

retirement health benefits at Dalhousie.  To remedy the situation, we have

first to ascertain the benefits which accrue from collective agreements or

other types of legally binding job related contracts between Dalhousie

University and the University's various employee groups (or employees).

Unfortunately, it appears that apart from the collective agreement between

the DFA and Dalhousie University, there are not many legally binding post

retirements benefits for those Dalhousie retirees who were not members of

DFA.  Nevertheless, ADRP has to carefully examine all available collective

agreements and similar documents pertinent to all Dalhousie retiree

groups.  In this context, it is encouraging to know that CURAC/ARUCC has

decided to be affiliated with CURC/ASRC (Congress of Union Retirees of

Canada/Association des syndicalistes retraites du Canada), which is a

large retiree organization associated with the Canadian Labour Congress.

We need all the available help and advice to improve the post retirement

benefits of those Dalhousie retirees who were not members of the DFA. ADRP

has also to interact with DFA for 1.  Identifying and monitoring post

retirement benefits to which retired DFA members are entitled now and 2.

Improving post retirement benefits in future DFA- Dalhousie University

collective agreements.

 

To change things for the better, ADRP may have to change as well.  For

example, there may be the need for a more goal oriented and activist ADRP.

I look forward to your comments, guidance, and above all, your active

participation.

 

Curac/ARUCC Conference Report

 

This is a summary of the conference proceedings which may be viewed in

full on the CURAC/ARUCC website www.curac.ca.

 

The Inaugural Conference of the College and University Retiree

Associations of Canada was held at the Sexton Campus, May 25-27,  2003.

Tarun Ghose welcomed the more than 50 persons in attendance.   Most of the

morning session was devoted to formalizing the arrangements made by the

steering committee appointed at the 2002 conference in Toronto to bring

CURAC into being as a new national association of post-secondary retiree

associations in Canada.

 

Peter Russell presented a draft of a proposed constitution which had

undergone extensive discussion within the Steering Committee and several

successive drafts.  With several friendly amendments the constitution was

approved unanimously by the delegates.

 

 

This session was followed by the Regional Reports

 

Atlantic Region (Ralph Winter)

 

Ralph Winter reported that most of the post-secondary retiree groups in

the Atlantic region with whom he was in touch seemed to be mainly

concerned with pension and benefit issues.  His own group at Acadia has

been working to get clarification as to what their benefit entitlements

actually are.  They have made some progress in this despite having to deal

with a confrontational administration.  They have also succeeded in

obtaining ID cards and are seeking improved access to library and computer

facilities.  He noted that social activities are important to the Acadia

group and that their luncheon meetings with speakers have been

particularly successful.  He pointed out important differences between the

retiree situation in small and larger institutions in the region: because

larger universities like Dalhousie, UNB, Moncton and Memorial have

professional faculties the mix of retirees is  different from that in

small schools like Acadia which do not; the smaller institutions also tend

to be located in rural areas and many retiring faculty choose to leave for

larger centres or BC on retirement.  Some representatives of other

Atlantic region retiree groups commented on their own situations.

 

Orville Scott of UNB reported that they were currently in critical

negotiations with their administration concerning the continuation of

health benefits, notably drugs and dental care, after retirement at age

65.

 

Don Steele of Memorial reported that until recently the retiree group had

been primarily social.  They had now become incorporated and were in the

process of implementing fees and a formal structure.

 

 

Quebec (Roch Meynard)

 

Roch explained that a variety of pension plans exist in Quebec: defined

benefit, defined contribution and hybrid plans.  Major concerns of

retirees in Quebec include upgrading pension plans to full indexing,

surplus distribution in the case of defined benefit plans, obtaining

effective representation on pension plan decision-making bodies, and

having health care benefits made available to those over 65.  In the

latter respect he noted that such benefits in Quebec universities are

terminated when employees reach age 65 whether they have retired or not.

 

 

Ontario (Germain Warkentin)

 

Two questions provided a framework for Germain Warkentin's review of the

situation facing academic retirees in Ontario: 1.  Do retirees have

adequate resources to care for themselves as they age and 2. What kind of

representation can retirees claim within the university communities in

which they have spent their lives.

 

On the matter of resources she noted great variation in the adequacy of

both pensions and benefits from one university to another in Ontario.

While retirees from some institutions are quite satisfied with their

pensions (Queen's, York, Ryerson) others are not, especially in cases

involving elderly surviving spouses (Laurentian, Toronto, Trent).   No one

is satisfied with their benefits situation.  Only 12 or the 18 Ontario

universities offer any benefits to their retirees, while those that do

often offer very limited coverage for which the retiree is required to pay

at what are often full market rates.

 

There is much unease about the status of retiree organizations in Ontario

with respect to both university administrations and the unions upon which

they must often rely to negotiate on their behalf.  Even at her own

university, Toronto, despite its long history and size retirees quite

simply "weren't on the screen" and despite some recent improvements the

situation remains much the same.  One area in which retirees might make

their presence felt, she suggested, was in getting administrators used to

the idea that interested retirees had a role to play in teaching and

research.

 

 

Prairies (John Mundie)

 

John Mundie's report showed that work remains to be done getting retiree

groups in the Prairie provinces organized and involved with the national

community.  In preparing his report he had encountered difficulty getting

information from some organized groups (University of Calgary, University

of Saskatchewan) and had been unable to find if retiree organizations

exist at the University of Lethbridge or the College universitaire de

Saint-Boniface.   However, well established groups exist at the

Universities of Alberta, Regina, Manitoba, and Winnipeg all of whom are

founding members of CURAC.  An informal group at Brandon University is

considering establishing a more formal organization.  The University of

Manitoba group has recently been officially recognized by the university

as the body authorized to represent all retirees there.  Members at the

University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg are forming the local

organizing committee for the next CURAC annual conference which will be

held in Winnipeg next May.

 

 

 British Columbia (Marvin Wideen)

 

Executive members of the retiree organizations at the three largest

British Columbia organizations contacted by Marvin Wideen have expressed

strong support for the establishment of a national retirees organization.

Both the UBC and Simon Fraser groups are founding members of CURAC and the

group at the University of Victoria is expected to join shortly.   Most of

the groups consulted indicated they have many of the same problems already

described by the previous regional representatives.  Several hope a

national organization will help in getting such issues resolved.  The

Simon Fraser group, in particular, believed CURAC's main role should be in

helping local groups achieve their objectives by circulating information

about what could be done, how it could be done, and by adding some

collective "clout" to reinforce their efforts.

 

 

The American experience (William Dando)

 

William Dando reported to the conference on the founding of a national

association of academic retiree organizations in the United States.  After

15 years of preparatory activity, AROHE (Association of Retirement

Organizations in Higher Education) was founded in 2002 to "provide a forum

for the development and sharing of ideas, resulting in the implementation

of new models of retirement in higher education.  Specifically, AROHA is

designed for its member to learn about creative developments in higher

education retirements organizations and campus programmes; to share ideas

about organizing, developing, and working with such organizations ; and be

energized by colleagues who are actively engaged in new retirement

ventures.

 

Commenting on the current meeting William Dando emphasized the

opportunities available to retirees to used their skills and abilities not

just to advance their own interests but  to make ongoing contributions to

their universities, local communities, their country and the world at

large.  The segment of the population over 60 is now a potentially

powerful political force which can be harnessed to do good, locally and

beyond.

 

 

Luncheon Address (Peter Waite)

 

Peter Waite sketched "Dalhousie's Struggle for Light and Air".  This was

an informative and very entertaining account of the political processes

which shaped the development of the many church-affiliated post-secondary

institutions in Nova Scotia and the seldom successful attempts to federate

them.

 

 

The Challenge Facing Higher Education (Tom Traves)

 

Tom Traves acknowledged that academics remain interested in university

affairs even after retirement.  He presented an update on the current

state of Canadian universities under three main headings: enrolment,

faculty complement, and research agenda, concluding with some implications

of these developments for infrastructure and expansion.  With more than

one-third of university faculty in Canada now 55 years of age or older, if

65 remains the normal retirement age at least 20,000 or as many as 40,000

new faculty will have to be hired over the course of the next decade.

Questions about the normal retirement age, rights and entitlements of

retired professors may have to be faced.  (Retirees who were DFA Members

in the 1980's will recall Ed Renner's presentations on faculty

demographics and the impending impact on universities and find this  very

familiar. Editor)

 

 

Special Aspects and Problems of Health Care for Seniors (Ken Rockwood)

 

Ken Rockwood divided the older population into the "well old"  which

included all present and who held little interest for specialists in

geriatric medicine, and the "frail old", those who had multiple illnesses.

While the existing health care system copes well with older patients who

have as many as three medical problems, there is well documented evidence

that the system does not handle well the more complex problems of the

frail.  He advised anyone at risk of becoming classified as frail should

regard hospitals as dangerous places and attempt to have the services of a

personal advocate available.  To avoid becoming frail there is good

evidence that three things are beneficial: exercise, engagement with other

people, and equanimity (not to the point of apathy, but attaining a

certain level of acceptance of the way things are).

 

 

Socio-Economic Aspects of Health Care for Seniors (Jeff Dayton Johnson)

 

Jeff identified four features of the retiree economy which could be

thought of as "perverse" with respect to the standard text-book market

model: 1.  A larger proportion of the income received by retirees is from

non-earned sources which makes the level of consumption enjoyed by

retirees more a function of public policy than market forces; 2.  A larger

part of the consumption of those over 65 is in the form of

publicly-provided service such as health care and so is also greatly

influenced by public policy; 3.  A more important part of the exchange of

services in the retiree economy is on a voluntary as distinguished from

"for pay" basis; 4.  Social relationships appear to be a relatively more

important source of well being than in the rest of the economy.

 

While differing in degree from the characteristics of the market model, he

concluded that in fact since elements of these four "perversities' were

also present to some extent in the rest of the economy, studying the

retiree economy might provide some insight into why well-performing

capitalist systems work as well as they do.

 

 

The Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs: An Exemplary Lesson (Howard Fink)

 

The context of Howard's remarks is the re-working of Canada's Medicare

system.  Most of us have been confident that, between governmental

Medicare and the medical insurance offered by our respective academic

institutions, we would continue to enjoy about the same level of medical

services we received when active, and at about the same cost.  Therefore,

the medical problems specific to the elderly would not be an undue or

unforeseen financial burden in retirement.  Howard urged us to "guess

again".  A number of things have changed in the last decade.  The federal

government has cut back it grants for Medicare.  Patients are now charged

many ancillary costs, especially the cost of drugs.  In Quebec, the annual

cost for drugs for the over 65's is fourteen times the 1996 cost.  The

ideal of Medicare is to share reasonable costs among a population of

differing incomes not to squeeze the over 65's to the point of

catastrophe.  We must be eternally vigilant concerning the growing number

of negative changes to government policies affecting us, particularly

after retirement and most particularly now when the terms of Medicare and

health care generally are being studied and transformed.  We are the

bell-weathers of problems for active faculty who must be kept informed,

and urged to cooperate to prevent these problems negatively affecting

their retirement lives.  Finally, we must communicate our concerns to the

governments involved.

 

 

The Senior Scholars Academy Concept: A Seamless Retirement Model for

Emeriti Faculty (William Dando)

 

Concerned by the large number of faculty retiring, their demoralization

when stripped of their offices and labs, the tendency for many to leave

the community on retirement, the economic and social impact of these

losses on the community, he was able to use his influence as a

distinguished scholar to win the support of the University administration

in implementing a three-year trial basis a multi-disciplinary program to

provide funding and other types of assistance to retired faculty and

staff, pre-retirement faculty and staff, and non-academic artists and

others having talents and skills which they were willing to make available

to educational, government, business and non-profit organizations in the

region.

 

 

Recognizing the Contributions of Retired Persons to Canadian Society

(Janice Keefe)

 

Janice began by noting that discussions about population aging are

conducted withing the context of the costs an aging population will impose

on society.  Her research seeks to develop a framework within which it is

possible to understand the contributions older adults can make and

provides specific evidence with respect to such contributions.  Data sets

make it possible to examine the characteristics of older adults who

provide assistance, such as housekeeping, outside work, shopping, banking

to others.  Issues relating to care-giving have to do with decreasing

family size, geographic mobility, and growing complexity in family

relationships.

 

The new international research initiative, "Hidden Costs and Invisible

Contributions: The Marginalization of Dependent Adults" will explore four

broad themes: 1. Costs, making explicit the hidden costs of care, 2.

Contributions, analyzing the contributions of "dependent adults", 3.

Policy, public policies and the costs and contributions of "dependent"

adults, and 4.  Integration, costs and contributions in social, political,

historic and cultural context.

 

 

EDITORIAL POLICY.

The ADRP intends to publish the Newsletter every three months.  It is

hoped the Newsletter will serve the following purposes: 1. To provide

pertinent information; 2. Toprovide a forum for the free exchange of views

on issues relevant to our Membership; 3. To serve as a documentary record

of matters relating to the ADRP. The Editorial Board, under the ultimate

direction of the ADRP Board, takes responsibility for the contents of the

Newsletter.  Signed contributions will take the form of short articles and

letters to the editor which will normally represent the opinions of the

author and need not represent the views of the ADRP.  Anonymous material

will not be considered for publication.  The Editorial Board retains the

right to edit or reject contributed material and to elicit similar and

opposing views surrounding any issue raised.

 Editors:  Rosemary MacKenzie, Dee Purvis.  Editorial Board: Rosemary

MacKenzie, Dorothy Moore, Dee Purvis; ex-officio: Tarun Ghose, Man Vohra.

Contact us: phone: 902-494-7174; email:  ADRP@dal.ca;  post:ADRP Office,

Rm 2831 Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S. B3H 4J1.

 

 

 

Rosemary MacKenzie                      Tel: 902-826-1957

                                     e-mail: rmackenz@dal.ca