Newsletters and Development Process to Date

May 2013 – initial proposal circulated to 100 key contacts…

July 2013 – first consultation meetings held in Ottawa and Toronto

August 2013 – discussion paper produced and circulated

September 2013 – follow-up meetings convened in Ottawa and Toronto

October 2013- presentation to CURC (Congress of Union Retirees of Canada) executive Ottawa

November 2013 – project committee formed to guide development

Interim Project Planning Committee as of  November 2014

  • John Anderson, former Director of Parliamentary Affairs Federal NDP
  • Walter Belyea, recently retired Labour Relations Officer, CAPE
  • Alex Cullen, former Ottawa City Councillor and MPP
  • Derrell R. Dular, Managing Director, Older Canadians Network
  • Dennis Howlett, Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness
  • Linda Kealey, board member, College and University Retirees Association
  • David Langille, producer of “Poor No More”, lecturer at York and Toronto universities
  • Brenda Wall, Campaigns Officer, OPSEU

 

Newsletter #3  November 2014

Hi all,

This newsletter is put out to update you on our national seniors’ organization project, CAUS, Canadian Alliance for United Seniors. Our address is PO Box 4340, Station E, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B3 or you can reach us by email or by posting a comment on the website or by phone at 613-290-0016. Our website is www.nationalseniorsproject.org

You can find our plan for the organization on the website.

Since our last newsletter of April 2014 (available on our website), we have been working hard to build the organization. Our interim steering committee consists of:

John Anderson, former Director of Parliamentary Affairs Federal NDP and former Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Canadian Co-operative Association

Walter Belyea, recently retired Labour Relations Officer, CAPE

Alex Cullen, former Ottawa City Councillor and MPP

Derrell R. Dular, Managing Director, Older Canadians Network

Dennis Howlett, Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness

Linda Kealey, board member, College and University Retirees Association of Canada

David Langille, producer of “Poor No More”, lecturer at York and Toronto universities

Brenda Wall, Campaigns Officer, OPSEU

Join with Us and Donate

We need your support. We believe that more than ever we really need a large democratic membership based progressive organization to confront the continued attack on seniors’ rights and stand up for a progressive agenda. While many seniors organizations exist, we are the only individual membership based national project which welcomes all over 50.

We would also welcome your posts for our website whether opinion pieces, reviews or news on seniors issues or issues of interest to seniors. We would also welcome suggestions for posts or possible interviews.

Please spread the word and get people you know to join our mailing list by sending us an email or signing in on our website.

 

We would also welcome any donations to help us develop our project. You can send a cheque to Canadian Alliance of United Seniors.

What is new 

Here is some of what has been happening since our last newsletter.  The newsletter can be found on our website. .

  1. Major Seniors Issues Protest Planned for October 1, 2015
  2. Health Care Challenges
  3. Taxes are an investment
  4. CLC meetings on seniors issues
  5. Target Benefit plans

 1) Major Seniors Issues Protest Planned for October 1, 2015

On October 17, 2014 Pat Kerwin, the President of CURC (Congress of Union Retirees of Canada) called a meeting  (which John Anderson attended for CAUS) in Toronto at the Ontario Federation of Labour to discuss the organization, on October 1, 2015, of the first annual national day of protest against cutbacks that affect seniors. October 1 is designated as the International Day of Older Persons.

CURC has “envisaged this event as involving any interested senior not just CURC members.”  A major one day action will be held in Toronto with activities also organized  in each province. The October 1, 2015 date would be right in the midst of the now scheduled October 19, 2015 federal election day . All major seniors’ organizations would hopefully participate and leaders of major parties would be invited to speak.

The day would be centred around major seniors issues such as: pensions, pharmacare and homecare.  But this list could be expanded.

A co-ordinating committee would be established for the Toronto day as well as committees in each province.

If you are interested in working on this day of protest in your province, please contact Pat Kerwin at patjkerwin@gmail.com  or contact us.

2)  Restore Health Transfers

Many are calling for a seniors’ health strategy,  but we need to put this call into a wider perspective of the approaching massive decline in federal health transfers to the provinces. This will hit seniors particularly hard and some regions harder than others. Here is “ A View from| Atlantic Canada” by board member Linda Kealey.

“Feds Need to Restore Health Transfers!

In early November, senior economist for the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, David Chaundy, pointed out that without the 6% annual increase in federal transfers previously directed to the provinces, the Atlantic region will need to find about $110 million dollars annually to offset the loss of this federal funding to health care.  Given that Joe Oliver’s federal fiscal update indicates a significant surplus, even with the wasteful “income splitting” that benefits an estimated 15% of Canadian families, the federal government could still avoid the train wreck that is approaching in health care in the coming years by using some of the surplus to fund health care.  The new health transfer formula, however, will slow the growth rate of transfers to the provinces and will tie funding increases to economic growth with a three percent floor, beginning in 2017.  Transfers of federal dollars will also be allocated on a per capita basis. Given slow economic growth and the flow of people to the west for employment, Atlantic Canada will have great difficulty finding the extra cash for health care.  In addition, demographic trends in the East also show that Atlantic Canada will have a larger number of seniors requiring health care than the rest of the country.  And we will have fewer working age adults to support the economy.  Clearly, with this formula, health care standards will differ across the country in contravention of the Canada Health Act which guarantees universal  and comprehensive access to health care for all under a publicly administered program  where coverage is portable across the provinces.

What has to be done?

  1. There needs to be a national strategy for seniors; despite the studies showing that we are not prepared for this demographic development and the urging of groups such as the Canadian Medical Association and seniors’ groups, no action has been taken by this federal government.
  2. The federal government needs to take a lead in health care funding by restoring its contributions and tying funding to the provinces to health benchmarks.
  3. Regional differences need to be taken into account. Funding should be based on a province’s age distribution and the challenges presented by rural population distribution.

It’s time to act!  The next federal election, scheduled for 2015, is an opportune time for all seniors’ groups and progressive organizations to push this agenda.”

3) Taxes are an investment

Recently the Harper government has brought out new measures on “income splitting” which is really a tax cut for a select 15% of families with children but which really only helps upper income families.  What does this tax cut and the others means for seniors?  Dennis Howlett, Board member and Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness answers this question and puts the debate around taxes into a wider perspective.

Taxes are an investment. In a country. In its people.

Over the past two decades anti-tax forces have spun the message that somehow taxes are for  chumps.  Corporations and wealthy individuals have spent a lot of time and money trying to outsmart the Canada Revenue Agency and its dwindling number of auditors. It is no coincidence that those same corporations and wealthy individuals stashed $170 billion in offshore tax havens.  Sending money offshore is not an illegal practice. However, not reporting this on your income tax return is. And the secrecy of tax havens and the lack of capacity in the CRA to go after tax cheats using tax havens means many can get away with it.

Tax haven facilitated tax evasion costs Canada at least $7.8 billion a year.

But wait, there’s more.

We lose another $10 billion through tax loopholes that mainly benefit the rich. Corporate taxes have been cut in half over the past decade, a loss of $13 billion a year. Other tax cuts, including the GST/HST tax cut and various boutique tax cuts add up to another $32 billion a year.  That is $62 billion in uncollected money that could be invested in health care, child care, education and affordable housing.

The tax system can be a key tool for redistributing wealth. Closing the gap between rich and poor is not only a moral and ethical imperative, it is also critical to restoring a healthy society and a healthy economy.

When wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few, there is weak consumer demand with disastrous consequences for jobs and economic growth. As Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks convincingly show in their book, The Trouble with Billionaires, the concentration of wealth also undermines democracy by enabling those with great wealth to use it to influence government policies in a way that benefits themselves to the disadvantage of the majority.

How can we put the brakes on growing inequality in Canada?   The Income Tax Act is a good place to start.  The wealthiest, who can afford to pay a fair share of our public services, enjoy a tax system skewed in their favour. A more progressive tax system can help to narrow the growing gap between rich and poor.

Higher tax rates on higher income brackets might be an obvious solution. It worked well for decades here in Canada and elsewhere.  But the 21st century holds some new challenges. Higher tax rates are meaningless without staunching the hemorrhaging caused by tax loopholes and tax havens.   Remember Warren Buffet’s famous comment that his secretary paid more tax than he did?  It holds true for Canada as well.  The top 1% pays a smaller share of their income in taxes than the poorest 10%. How does this happen? Most very rich people don’t pay anything close to the highest marginal rate on their income because there is a burgeoning industry – both legal and illegal- that helps them minimize or avoid paying taxes.

The tax system can be used not just to reduce the incomes at the top but to deliver benefits to those at the bottom as well.

Seniors’ benefits including the Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement have helped to lower poverty rates for seniors to 7.2% or about half the rate for the Canadian population as a whole. The OECD is warning, however that seniors’ poverty rates are beginning to rise again, and could rise even more when the retirement age is increased to 67 from 65. Senior’s poverty could be eliminated by applying the $29 billion the government now spends on tax breaks for RRSPs and company pensions that mainly benefit the wealthier Canadians.

The Canada Child Tax Benefit has been largely responsible for reducing the incidence of low income among families with children from 17.6% when it was introduced in 1998 to 8.5%  in 2011. Child poverty could practically be eliminated if this benefit were increased to $5,400 per child from the current maximum benefit of $3,654. This would cost just over $5 billion.  Half this cost could be covered by eliminating the Universal Child Care Benefit.

Boosting the Working Income Tax Benefit would also help to reduce poverty among the working poor.

Until recently many progressive organizations, including progressive political parties, have shied away from advocating for tax fairness and tax reform.  They feared that the issue was political dynamite.  But there is a shift happening.

Poll after poll is showing that Canadians are understanding the role of taxes as an investment. They see that child poverty hasn’t been eradicated.  They experience the impact that so-called austerity measures have had on their families, their neighbours and their communities.  A clear majority of Canadians are prepared to pay more taxes to avoid costly cuts and to improve the quality of our health, education and other public services.

Taxes are an investment.   Investments should be strategic.  It is time to revisit our tax priorities.

4) The CLC is hosting a series of Retirement Security events across the country

 Here is excerpt from a report on the first event in Toronto.  A list of all the events across Canada follows.

http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/11/12/invest_surplus_in_retirement_benefits_labour_says.html

 Invest surplus in retirement benefits, labour says

‘It’s time we gave the country’s poorest seniors a raise’: CLC president.

By: Dana Flavelle Economy, Published on Wed Nov 12 2014

Ottawa needs to invest some of next spring’s budget surplus in higher benefits for low-income retirees, the Canadian Labour Congress says.

“It’s time we gave the country’s poorest seniors a raise,” CLC president Hassan Yussuff told a CLC event in Toronto Wednesday.

An increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement is just one of the planks in a broader campaign the labour group is launching in advance of next year’s federal election.

Instead of giving tax breaks to the richest Canadians through income-splitting schemes, Ottawa needs to address the looming retirement income crisis, Yussuff said.

The Congress also wants Ottawa to double the value of future Canada Pension Plan benefits, in part to offset the decline in employer-sponsored plans and the shift to less secure retirement schemes……”

Here is a list of dates across Canada to which everyone is invited.

 

Retirement Security Events
Date Time Location City Province
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10 AM – 1 PM USW 25 Cecil Street Toronto ON
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

 

7 PM -9 PM

Willow Room, Boyle St. Community Centre, 101-9538, 103A Avenue  

Edmonton

 

AB

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 

7 PM -9 PM

USW Local 650066 Brady Street Sudbury, ON P3E 1C8  

Sudbury

 

ON

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 7 PM – 9 PM The Grand Gardens Sault Ste-Marie ON
 

 

 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

 

 

 

6 PM – 8 PM

CUPE Local 400032 Colonnade Avenue NorthSuite 200

Ottawa, ON K2E 7S6

 

 

 

Ottawa

 

 

 

ON

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 12 AM – 1 PM Flowercity Senior’s Centre Peel ON
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 7 PM -9 PM Halifax Forum, Maritime Hall Halifax NS
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 10 AM – 12 PM Nellie McClung Library 3950 Cedar Hill Rd Victoria BC
Thursday, December 4, 2014 8:30 AM -10:30 AM Gateway Room, Fort Garry Hotel, 222 Broadway Winnipeg MB
Thursday, December 4, 2014 6 PM- 8 PM St. Catherine’s ON
Thursday, December 4, 2014 7 PM -9 PM Lions Community Centre 473 George St. Moncton NB
Thursday, December 4, 2014 Vancouver BC
Thursday, December 11, 2014 5 PM – 10 PM Giovanni Caboto Club Windsor ON
Sunday, December 14, 2014 7 PM -9 PM Artesian on 13th, 2627 – 13th Avenue Regina SK
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 6 PM – 8 PM Oshawa Curling Club Oshawa ON

 

 

 

5) Target Benefit Pension Plans

Target benefit plans are the latest employer tool to attack defined benefit plans and reduce and weaken existing and future employee pension plans. CAUS signed this letter with other seniors groups in July 2014 which asked the federal government to immediately stop any and all moves to convert DB plans to target plans which eliminate the guaranteed payments of DB plans.

July 25, 2014

The Honourable Kevin Sorenson, P.C., M.P.

Minister of State (Finance)

House of Commons

Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

k.sorenson@fin.gc.ca

Dear Minister:

The collected retiree groups that have endorsed this letter represent hundreds of

thousands of retired pension plan members in Canada. We are writing you to

express our serious concerns regarding the government’s recent ‘consultation’ on a

potential framework for target-benefit pension plans in the federal private-sector and

for Crown corporations.

 

Our concerns are two-fold: first, we object to the unfair, opaque, and inadequate

way that this consultation was conducted. Second, we oppose the Federal

Government opening the way for employers to convert defined-benefit (DB) plans to

target-benefit (TB) plans; thereby allowing sponsors to retroactively eliminate DB

pension liabilities and potentially reduce pension cheques paid to retirees.

 

With respect to the first concern, all stakeholders have cause to be alarmed at the

way in which this consultation was handled. Retired members of DB pension plans

under federal jurisdiction have a significant and immediate material interest in the

development of a framework for converting pension plans. Yet there was no

indication that individual retirees were invited or permitted to participate in the

process, only retiree groups. As a consequence, most retirees were not properly

notified of the consultation and the proposed framework, and they were not made

aware of the potential personal consequences of what the Federal Government is

contemplating.

We are also concerned with the lack of transparency characterizing the consultation.

The endorsing retiree groups were not informed or invited to in-person consultations

with the Minister, and learned of them only when the Minister declared the

consultations closed. In effect, this was no consultation, but rather an invitation for

some interested parties—but not all—to submit written comments to the

government. Other aspects of the consultation were simply baffling. The

consultation document inexplicably invited only plan sponsors to address

fundamental questions, such as, “Should TBPs be an option available to employers

and employees of federally-regulated DB or DC plans?”

The lack of proper notification and consultation compounds the fact that there is

already significant misinformation and myth surrounding these plans. target-benefit

pension plans and “shared-risk” plans are persistently and routinely characterized

incorrectly in the media. For instance, “shared-risk” plans are commonly described

as providing “guaranteed” benefits, when—in fact—benefit levels are not guaranteed,

but instead are contingent on the funded status of the plan. In New Brunswick, the

government has admitted that communication with plan members prior to “shared-

risk” plan conversions has been inadequate, and retirees have initiated legal action

in response to inadequate and misleading information.

The stakes could not be higher for retired plan members, who are typically least able

to manage the risk of plan underfunding and adjust to reduced pension benefits in

retirement. Furthermore, the stakes are particularly high for the retired members of

the Canada Post Corporation pension plan. The conversion of DB plans to TB

arrangements contemplated in the federal consultation paper would allow Canada

Post to retroactively eliminate its DB pension liabilities. In one fell swoop, this would

make the corporation significantly more attractive to a private-sector buyer.

Recently, Blacklock’s reporter revealed that the Prime Minister commissioned

research detailing the privatization of the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail. What that

research would have detailed, was that similar treatment of the Royal Mail’s pension

liabilities was an important step in the process of preparing it for privatization.

Despite this, only a tiny fraction of the nearly 30,000 retired members of the Canada

Post Corporation pension plan were included in the government’s target-benefit

pension consultations.

 

With respect to our second concern, we call on the government to repudiate the

notion that employers should be allowed to retroactively eliminate existing DB plan

liabilities. These pension benefits were paid for through the deferred earnings of

retired members, and formed part of their compensation and terms and conditions

of their employment. It is unconscionable that the government would permit

employers to retroactively escape their legal obligations in this manner. It is also

highly offensive and unacceptable to Canadians; a June 20th Ipsos poll found that

94% of those surveyed agreed that “employers should live up to the commitments

they have made to pensioners and employees.”

 

We therefore call on the government to clearly and unambiguously repudiate any

changes to pension standards legislation permitting plan sponsors to eliminate past-

service DB liabilities by way of converting to a target-benefit or “shared-risk” plan.

We call on the government to cease any further development on framework

legislation or regulation for DB-TB pension plan conversions, and instead act to

stabilize and sustain existing DB pension plans in order to protect the benefits of all

current and retired plan members.

We look forward to your response to this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Whitaker

Peter-Manon@rogers.com

List of Retiree Groups Endorsing This Open Letter:

Jean-Claude Parrot for a group of 32 Canada Post Corporation retirees

Canadian Alliance of United Seniors (CAUS)

National Pensioners Federation (NPF)

Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC) and its Area Councils

Congress of Union Retirees of Canada—Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville Chapter

BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM)

Canadian Union of Postal Workers Metro Vancouver Retirees Organization

sd:COPE225

**********************************

Newsletter #2  April 2014

Hi all,

We have a new name for our project to create a democratic, one member, one vote, progressive seniors organization, CAUS, Canadian Alliance for United Seniors, and a new address PO Box 4340, Station E, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B3. For now our updated website continues to be www.nationalseniorsproject.org

 

Over the past period, we have continued to meet with seniors organizations, such as the National Pensioners Federation, and hope that we can continue to work together on seniors’ issues. I am enclosing, as an attachment, an updated Plan for our organization which outlines how we would operate and how we are trying to work towards a September 2014 launch of the organization. It is also on our website at:  https://nationalseniorsproject.org/creating-a-progressive-national-seniors-organization/

 

Our Interim Planning Committee members are listed below. Since we last wrote you, we are very pleased to announce that Linda Kealey has joined our committee. Linda is an emeritus professor from UNB and one of Canada’s most prominent women’s historians.

 

  • John Anderson, former Director of Parliamentary Affairs Federal NDP
  • Walter Belyea, recently retired Labour Relations Officer, CAPE
  • Alex Cullen, former Ottawa City Councillor and MPP
  • Derrell R. Dular, Managing Director, Older Canadians Network
  • Larry Gordon, founding President/former Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
  • Dennis Howlett, Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness
  • Linda Kealey, board member, College and University Retirees Association
  • David Langille, producer of “Poor No More”, lecturer at York and Toronto universities
  • Dean Lindsay, National Co-ordinator Retired Workers, UNIFOR
  • Wilbray Thiffault, former member CUPW
  • Brenda Wall, Campaigns Officer, OPSEU

 

We are still looking for more help and would welcome any self nominations or suggestions as to possible additional members particularly women as our committee is still very unbalanced.

 

Also we now have a credit union account and would welcome any financial help to get us off the ground regarding incorporation fees and  helping to improve our website.

 

Please spread the word and get people you know to join our mailing list.

 

What is new 

 

We believe that more than ever we really need a large membership based progressive organization to confront the continued attack on seniors rights and stand up for a progressive agenda. Here is some of what has been happening since our last newsletter. All these issues and more are on our website.

 

1)      Not only has the pension crisis continued without any change, (see Walter Belyea’s review of a new book on the pension crisis on our website https://nationalseniorsproject.org/commentaries-and-reviews/ )  but the Government’s own research has even confirmed the economic  benefits of expanding the CPP. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/internal-finance-department-study-finds-economic-benefits-to-cpp-expansion/article17729761/

 

2)      Just a week ago, without any previous discussion or warning, the federal government stuck, into its 380 page monster Budget Implementation Bill C-31, a new attack on low income immigrant seniors, by banning them from applying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement until they had spent 20 years in Canada. This is up from the 10 years residency that all other Canadians have to have.  Seniors of colour are going to be particularly targeted by this classist and racist policy. http://www.torontosun.com/2014/03/28/guaranteed-income-supplement-changes-take-burden-off-taxpayers-kenney-says

 

3)      As the Health Care Accord expired on March 31st, the Canadian Medical Association has joined the Canadian Health Coalition in calling for a Seniors Health Strategy. http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1331509/statement-by-dr-louis-hugo-francescutti-president-canadian-medical-association-end-of-the-2004-canada-health-accord-calls-out-need-for-strategy-on-sen

 

“We must all come together now to face our biggest challenge: ensuring adequate care is available for our rapidly aging population. The clock is ticking. The leading edge of the baby boom generation will reach the age of 75 in 2021. Annual average per capita health costs will jump by more than one third (36%) once these seniors enter the 75-79 age group and costs will continue to escalate after that.”

4)      The Federal Government continues with its “Unfair Elections Act” changes to our voting system. The proposed ban on voting cards and on the vouching system, two methods of identification particularly used by senior voters, will have the affect of stopping perhaps 100,000 or more seniors from voting. And while this article claims it can hurt the Tories, I think it is wrong to think that most seniors are wedded to voting Tory.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/10/mcgregor-anderson-how-the-fair-elections-act-might-actually-hurt-the-tories-in-2015/

 

 

5)      The battle to save Canada Post home delivery continues and many seniors will be terribly affected.  Canada Post deep sixed its own study which showed there are viable alternatives such as postal banking instead of cuts to home delivery. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/02/19/canada_post_should_deliver_on_postal_banking.html

 

Please send us more suggestions for posts. We particularly welcome new original pieces on seniors’ issues. In solidarity and co-operation, John Anderson

*************************************************

Newsletter #1  January 2014

Hi all and Happy New Year!

The last time we wrote to all of you we had been telling you about meetings which we have held for the National Seniors Organization Project in Ottawa and Toronto.  I wanted to update you on what has been happening since then.  We are moving forward on this project to build a new progressive democratic seniors organization.  

This is a crucial time for seniors and for future seniors.

With all these issues swirling around, we believe that a progressive democratic membership based seniors’ organization, which can work with all existing seniors’ organizations, is more and more needed. You can find a detailed text on this project on our website. Some of you have asked what is the target age group and all I can say that membership would be for those over 50 similar to other seniors organizations.

We need your help so please do not hesitate to forward this email to anyone you think would be interested and please tell them to send me an email to sign up for future issues of this newsletter.

Here is our project news for this fall.

 

New website

First of all we have a website at www.nationalseniorsproject.org .

This new website is where you can find news about the project and a document explaining the project as well as articles on some of the current issues touching seniors. Please do not hesitate to send us links to articles that should be there as well as blogs or postings that you think should be up there.

New project committee

Second of all, we have an interim project committee composed of a great group of activists and we are still trying to recruit some new members particularly to increase the number of women.

  • John Anderson, former Director of Parliamentary Affairs Federal NDP
  • Walter Belyea, Labour Relations Officer, CAPE
  • Alex Cullen, current NDP candidate for Ottawa West Nepean, former Ottawa City Councillor and MPP
  • Derrell R. Dular, Managing Director, Older Canadians Network
  • Larry Gordon, founding President/former Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
  • Dennis Howlett, Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness
  • David Langille, producer of “Poor No More” and lecturer at York and Toronto universities
  • Dean Lindsay, National Co-ordinator Retired Workers, UNIFOR
  • Wilbray Thiffault, former member CUPW
  • Brenda Wall, Campaigns Officer, OPSEU

The committee will be meeting again in January and hopefully on a monthly basis going forward to examine how we can best move the project forward.

Topics we are examining include organizational models and funding. Please send any comments on these issues  to:

Larry Gordon on organizational models:  larrygordon2.0@gmail.com

David Langille on funding models: langille@yorku.ca

We are looking at such organizations as the National Pensioners Convention in the UK; the FSNA-National Asscoiation of Federal Retirees, Council of Canadians, MEC, and the NDP as well as  AARP in the USA.

Two successful meetings in Ottawa and Toronto in October

 We had attendance from a diverse background of people interested in the project. The turn-out at the two meetings included seniors benefits advocate and GIS access champion, Richard Shillington, Donald Lafleur, VP of CUPW and developer of their retirees group, and Irene Mathyssen (NDP Seniors critic) assistant Tara Hogesterp as well as members of the committee above. We have also had messages of support from a wide circle of people.

Chances to talk about our project and learn what others are doing

Secondly, I was invited by Pat Kerwin,  President of CURC, who has also attended our meetings,  to present on the project at the October 22 meeting of the executive of CURC (Congress of Union Retirees of Canada), a meeting just before CURC’s biennial convention. I can say the project received wide spread support from many on the large 15 person board. I also attended many parts of the convention and was very impressed with the quality of the debates and presentations and active participation (it was their largest convention ever). Information and the presentations at the convention can be found at http://unionretiree.ca/curcs-11th-constitutional-convention-ottawa-oct-22-25-2013/

At the event, I had the chance to meet individually with some of the CURC members, such as Doug MacPherson, National Co-ordinator of SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) who were particularly interested in the project.  After the convention, Pat invited us to help organize a much larger open event around their next convention in 2015 modeled on what the National Pensioners Convention does in the UK which is to organize an annual National Pensioners Parliament (see below) which draws thousands of seniors from all over the UK http://npcuk.org/pensioners-parliament

Dean Lindsay, the National Coordinator, Retired Workers for UNIFOR, the new union formed from the merger of CAW and CEP, which has been very supportive of the goal of building a larger democratic organization, invited me to speak at their Retirees Council meeting December 5 in Toronto. This was a great opportunity as UNIFOR is the largest industrial union in Canada and has a very large and well organized retirees group. I had a very good opportunity to explain the project before their executive council and answer questions from the group.

Fourthly, Herb John, President of the National Pensioners Federation, who was also at the CURC meeting, invited me to speak at their National Executive Board meeting in Toronto on January 22, 2014 on our project and to see how we can work together. The National Pensioners Federation http://www.npscf.org/?page_id=37  is the new name of the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation which is one of the largest national seniors’ organizations. It is very largely a federated body with 350 existing clubs. They are also interested in the same goals of building a larger and more activist and powerful organization.

Fifthly, a National Conference on a Seniors Health Care Plan for Canada organized by the Canadian Health Care Coalition was held on December 2 in Ottawa. This was an important event for seniors and for all those interested in a progressive seniorsagenda. As you know seniors health policy and services is one of the crucial issues we have to protect and expand. All the presentations are available in video and PowerPoint at http://healthcoalition.ca/a-seniors-health-care-plan/ . Our initiative gained some new interest at the conference and we have added some more people to the mailing list.

Lastly in December, while in the UK, I had a chance to talk with the National Pensioners Convention http://npcuk.org/, the largest UK seniors organization. The NPC is perhaps best known for organizing its National Pensioners Parliament in Blackpool which is an annual meeting with speeches, demos and workshops to which anyone in the UK can attend for £6. The NPC was founded in 1978 and was at its core over 30 union retiree groups but you can also join one of the 18 regional groups for €5 a year. The NPC is concerned with attacks on seniors benefits by the Cameron government including on:

Please spread the word

 So, as you see, things are getting really interesting and our project is moving forward. Please do not hesitate to send us any comments and please send on this newsletter and tell people to send us there name and email so we can add them to the email list.

In solidarity and co-operation

John Anderson

 

 

 

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