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By Bill Cann, RTAM President 2021-2022

There have been some important developments since the October 21 Board meeting. I remain indebted to the Executive Officers, Executive Director, office staff and individual Directors for their valued assistance in successfully addressing emergent issues and moving our organization ahead. 

First, our staff deserve our sincere thanks for managing the move to the new office so efficiently under challenging circumstances. Special commendations are due to Denise Bellesia and Dianne Casar for completing the packing, unpacking, and organizing of the move into this new and smaller office space. Gordon Fardoe is arranging for proposals for the best equipment options to run effective hybrid meetings from the new office.

RTAM continues shifting to a more aggressive political advocacy stance. With Board approval, the Five ASKs document will be sent to the new premier. Depending on the response, the document may also be circulated to all political parties prior to the next provincial election.  

Solutions to the Succession/Leadership Crisis must remain a major focus for the Executive and Directors over the next 5 months. In addition to appeals to Chapters Presidents and current RTAM Directors I will start personally contacting all committee members and encouraging them to run for election at the May AGM.

The most significant developments involve the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) and the Winnipeg Teachers Association (WTA). On October 30, RTAM presented its third pre-retirement seminar in 2021 with 217 active teacher registrations. This represents an increase of over 400% compared to registrations of past seminars and was due to the additional advertising provided by the MTS. Due to a zoom license glitch, only 125 registrants were able to attend. RTAM will repeat the seminar on November 20 to accommodate everyone.

On October 26, I made the first RTAM presentation to the MTS Provincial Executive, with the other RTAM executive members and our Executive Director in attendance as observers. Over the course of 30 minutes, I made the case for two proposals:  

  • To seek from the MTS public recognition that RTAM is the official voice of retired teachers in Manitoba.
  • To develop and sign a mutual letter of understanding which will formalize and strengthen the relationship between the MTS and RTAM over the next 3 years.

A copy of the presentation text is attached to the President’s report, shared with Chapter Presidents, and printed in the next issue of KIT.

On November 3, Dave Najduch and I made a presentation to the Group Benefits Committee of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association. Bill 64’s proposed amalgamation of school divisions in Metro Winnipeg likely would have triggered the termination of the WTA’s Manulife Extended Health Insurance for some 2500 WTA retirees. Starting in March 2021, Dave Najduch and I began a series of seven meetings with Robert Dowden (Johnson Inc. VP, Group Benefits) and Jessica Simpson to develop an alternative plan for WTA retirees. With the collapse of Bill 64, we pivoted our approach to develop stronger ties with the WTA and promote the Prestige Travel insurance plan.

Finally, I have requested the KIT Editorial committee to consider ways to significantly increase the number of digital/electronic subscribers. Past efforts have been unsuccessful and currently only four hundred of our 10,000 members receive an electronic copy of KIT. Trip Merchant is prepared to match a $500 RTAM donation towards a future $1000 travel credit as a digital sign up incentive for both KIT and the Trip merchant newsletter.