The FSNA Edmonton Branch Fall General Membership Meeting was held Sep.10, 2014 at the Royal Canadian Legion, Kingsway Branch 14339 50th St. Edmonton, AB.
There were 119 members in attendance. CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) was provided for deaf/ hard of hearing members.
Following a delicious meal, our Guest Speaker, lawyer Leroy Hiller B.A. LLB., spoke on Wills, Powers of Attorney, Personal Directives, and the potential problems of joint ownership and beneficiary designations. He answered many questions from the members present.
Brian Emdin gave his President’s Report, advising that as of the June 2014 National convention, we are now NAFR – National Association of Federal Retirees. Our branch will be writing new by-laws to comply with new national bylaws and protect our financial ability to provide continued member services and conduct advocacy.
Dave Riffel, Provincial Advocacy Officer (PAO) for Alberta, advised that National Office is organizing town hall meetings regarding Retirement Income and Health Care Security for all Canadians. This is in response to the federal government’s quietly announced new framework for voluntary Target Benefit Plans (TBP) signaling significant pension reform in Canada. We should be very concerned.
As PAO, Dave sits on the Public Interest Alberta (PIA) Seniors Task Force Committee, jointly producing a paper on Long Term Care for Albertans and working on other seniors’ issues. There was little meeting activity with the Alberta Government due to the summer season, recent PC scandals, and the PC leadership election. NAFR’s nationwide Advocacy priority is the 2015 Federal Election. He encouraged all members to speak with their MP and other candidates. Speaking notes are being developed.
Dave noted: 1) Alberta Auditor General Saher reported Alberta is failing to properly handle chronic disease; 2) The Deputy Health Minister is now a director at Alberta Health Services; 3) New PC Leader Jim Prentice has stated that Alberta government should team up with religious groups to fund nursing home construction/operation and vows to overhaul the Alberta Supportive Living Initiative. Dave advised that this is not good news. Already a religious group (a homecare facility and provider) supported by the government, laid off 157 long term/experienced employees to be replaced by cheaper temporary foreign workers. 4) The Globe and Mail reported provinces are seeking additional money to help with their deficits, due to federal surplus. The Globe and Mail suggests the response is likely, “Cut your spending like we did.”
Dave concluded that we all have vested interests in actions which impact seniors. It is incumbent upon us to speak out, talk politics and be aware.
Ross Gillespie asked members to look at the Edmonton Branch website www.nafredm.ca and the All Alberta Branches website www.fsnaab.ca. Members are asked to use the Quick Contact section on the right side of the websites to provide comments, suggestions and feedback. The New NAFR website is expected in January 2015.
Ross said a Thank you to all the phoners. In May 2013, we had 40 phoners who called 1,600 numbers – about 40 each. For this meeting we were down to 27 phoners who still called 40 numbers each. We are fortunate that some members who have not been attending have taken their names off the list, and more than 300 have switched to receiving notice of meetings by email. Thank you to all who made the switch. For those who can, please volunteer as phoners. [THANK YOU to 5 members who signed up at the meeting!] Also at the meeting, several members were added to our branch e-mail list.
Under the new national structure, NWT members were assigned to Edmonton branch. That added 192 members bringing our branch total to 5899.
Health Benefits Officer (HBO)
Gwen Rutherford reported that the Pension Bulletin #8 is out with details of the PSHCP changes, including:
- Coverage for Laser eye Surgery… lifetime max. $1000.
- Increase in psychological services from $1000 to $2000.
- Coverage for repairs, servicing, and replacement parts of aerotherapeutic devices to a max of $300/yr.
Effective Jan.1/2015… annual deductible will no longer apply.
Cost sharing for retired member contributions will increase from 25% to 50%. This increase will NOT apply to retired members who were members of the Plan before April 1, 2015, PROVIDED their family income falls below the relevant Guaranteed Income Supplement threshold.
In addition, the number of cumulative years of pensionable service required to qualify for coverage as a retired member under the plan will increase from 2 to 6 years.
The new premium cost information is difficult to obtain. Members should contact their pension office for their premium increase information. Pension Office phone numbers are on our Branch Survivor Benefits Guide, (available on the tables).
NOTE: Members only need Level 1 PSHCP coverage in Alberta.
Through our branch advocacy we work cooperatively with the Alberta Friends of Medicare (FOM) who are part of the National/Provincial Health coalition. There is an immediate danger that clinics charging user fees could be let off the hook and the equity and fairness of our public health care system could be in jeopardy. We need people to contact FOM who have been charged user fees for surgeries, or colonoscopies or cataracts or other medically necessary procedures at private clinics. As many of you will know, one of the largest private for profit clinics in the country, owned by Dr. Brian Day, has initiated a court case in an attempt to dismantle single-tier Medicare. In the court challenge, the BC Government (which brought in the private clinics in the first place), is defending single-tier public health care for all in court against Day’s challenge. In the meantime, Dr. Day is doing all kinds of media interviews advocating against single-tier health care. We urgently need to counter the anti-public health care messages in the media and we need to ensure that the BC government stands up for public Medicare in the negotiations. Health Coalitions across Canada will be holding press conferences to warn of the dangers of private clinics and appeal to the BC government to uphold single-tier Medicare. Any members with first-hand experience being charged a user fee by a private clinic for a medically necessary procedure like cataract operations, hip or knee surgery, MRI or colonoscopy, please contact your provincial health coalition. In Alberta, that is Alberta Friends of Medicare, Co-Ordinator: Sandra Azocar, 3rd Floor, 10512 – 122 Street, Edmonton, AB T5N 1M6 Tel: 780-423-4581 Fax: 780-420-0435
The meeting concluded with prize draws. Winners were: Door Prizes – Tillie Chudyk and Grace Smith… 50/50 – Sandra McPherson and June Skjonsberg.
Our Next Meeting is a luncheon meeting on Dec.10, 2014 Roy Goodall, who is one of the two new Directors for the Prairie District, will attend.