This past year has been a time for change: working from home, online schooling, contacting others by Zoom and, of course, the health restrictions in travel, gatherings, masks, social distancing and lockdowns. We have had to adapt to these changes in hopes of defeating COVID-19. Plans for re-opening have now been released by the government. We can only hope that things will open up without a fourth wave.
What will the new normal be? Certainly the workplace will never be the same. I suspect that working from home, at least part of the time, will be the new normal for many. Some meetings will continue to be on Zoom or other meeting media to allow discussion without having to travel. Most of us have developed a greater appreciation for the little things we have been unable to enjoy during the pandemic such as hugging our grandchildren and other loved ones. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be a BIG step towards enjoying the new normal.
CRTA has had to adapt as well. Our in person activities had to be cancelled. Fortunately, thanks to the Steppin’ Out Committee, Steppin’ Out Reimagined, with Zoom presentations, was very successful. I suspect we may still have some Zoom presentations even after we are able to resume in-person activities. CRTA Movie Night on Zoom was also enjoyed by many. This may return in another format in the new normal.
The CRTA Board of Directors met via Zoom May 20 and will continue to monitor the provincial opening so that we can resume our in-person activities when it is safe to do so. The CRTA Annual General Meeting will be a Zoom event on June 24 starting at 10:00 am. Information for registering for the AGM was sent in an email blast on May 22. Registration opens June 1. At the AGM the audited financial statement will be presented and the Board of Directors will be elected. An agenda, minutes of the 2020 AGM and the proposed slate for the Board of Directors will be sent out by email to the registrants.
Nominations for the Board of Directors may also come from the floor. Please consider volunteering. Registrants, other than the members of the Board, will be entered into a draw for a free CRTA membership. Two prizes will be awarded.
The ARTA Board of Directors met May 25/26 via Zoom followed by a virtual retreat May 27. In addition to the sessions, Alberta’s Economy In 2021 and The Key To Connection, participants met in small groups in breakout rooms, which allowed further interaction with each other. As you are aware from our email blast, ARTA’s Pension and Financial Wellness Committee organized a three-part financial seminar for ARTA members. The information and links can be found on the CRTA web site under News. The ARTA Wellness Challenge will continue until June 30, at which time registrants submit their number of active minutes for their best 30 days since April 1 to Linda Manwarren at firstname.lastname@example.org. Linda will submit our branch totals to ARTA.
The last year has been a tough go for all of us. We look forward to when we can spend time together without masks and being socially distanced from each other and being able to travel. This will come, but in the meantime it is important that we do our part by continuing to follow the pandemic health measures.
Stay Safe. Stay Well. Stay Active.
Much has happened since December. As of January 1/21 ARTA began self administering it’s Retiree Plan. ARTA is now a one-stop shop for ARTA members. ARTA will not only manage ARTA membership, but will also administer the Retiree Benefits Plan – withdrawing premiums and working directly with our claims adjudicator to review and reimburse eligible health and dental claims. All of your calls, emails, and mail will go to one location and be responded to by one of the ARTA staff members. As with any change there were some hiccups and many inquiries. ARTA was receiving 300-500 calls a day for the first few days and it took time to respond to and address the concerns of the inquiring member.
If you haven’t registered to the myARTA portal at https:// www.myarta.net, now is the time. On each page, you will find a custom sidebar with helpful information specific to that section. Tutorial videos have also been created and can be found on ARTA’s YouTube Channel. Looking for your 2020 Premiums & Claims Statement for tax purposes? It will be posted to your MyARTA account by February 28, 2021.
Also on the ARTA website- https://www.arta.net/advocacy/advocacy resources/alberta-legislation/#1576537232435-654ed363-1dfc is a copy of the CBC interview of ARTA President Lorna McIlroy, and ATA President Jason Schilling re the transfer of our pensions to AIMCo, As well, there is a link to the letter that president Lorna sent Minister Towes regarding the imposed agreement re AIMco
Many of you experienced the frustrations of signing up for your covid 19 vaccine shots. Certainly a number of things could have been done differently to avoid some of the problems, but for those of you under 75, things should go much smoother as a result of what was learned from the initial sign-up experience.
Although we have not been able to enjoy “in person” CRTA activities due to the pandemic, thanks to the efforts of Linda Manwarren and the stepping out committee, a number of Stepping out Reimagined Sessions, have been offered through zoom. These included: A Virtual Trip to SE Asia Jan 9, Chair Yoga Feb 4, An Evening With ‘Elton John Feb 13, and A Peek Into Calgary’s French Roots Feb 15. Coming up In March will be Calgary through the Eyes of Writers March 3, Chair Yoga the series March 4, Perennial Plants of the Year for Calgary March 16, and Travelling Vicariously in a Glass March 31. More information is available on the CRTA Website. In addition, Ron Jeffrey has organized a number of CRTA nights at the movies using Zoom. Thanks to both the organizers and participants of these activities. Thanks also to Myrna and her “M team” for organizing and producing the CRTA Newsletter. It is both interesting and informative.
We survived some cold weather during the first part of February after enjoying a rather mild January. March looks like we will once again, be treated to some warmer weather and the opportunity of spending more time outdoors again. The ARTA Wellness Challenge will be held April 1 to June 30. More information regarding registration will be coming. Hopefully receiving the covid 19 vaccine will be a step towards enjoying the “new normal.”
Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Active
On Oct 6 and 7, 2020, five CRTA delegates participated in the first ever Zoom 2020 Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). During this meeting, current ARTA Bylaws were reviewed and some were replaced with new ones. Elections were held for executive and various committee positions. Reports from all the committees were also presented and considered.
One important piece of news is that effective Jan 1, 2021, ARTA will be self-administering its Retiree Benefits Plan. With regulatory changes to Health & Welfare Trusts being introduced by the federal government, the opportunity has presented itself for ARTA to self-administer the Plan. Historically, ARTA has contracted a third-party benefits administrator (currently ASEBP) to do this on our behalf. Now, ARTA will be a one-stop shop for ARTA members. ARTA will not only manage ARTA membership, but will also administer the Retiree Benefits Plan – withdrawing premiums and working directly with our claims adjudicator to review and reim- burse eligible health and dental claims. All of your calls, emails, and mail will go to one loca- tion and be responded to by one team of ARTA staff. Communications and processes will be streamlined and you will no longer need to contact ASEBP. By self-administering the Retiree Benefits Plan, ARTA will be able to utilize funds budgeted for third party administration fees and reinvest it back into the plan. This will also allow them to make significant improve- ments to the way the Plan is administered, including the capabilities for online claim submis- sions and a smartphone app.
Over the next several months, there will be significant changes at the ARTA office as they prepare for self-administration. This includes a larger office space, new staff, new systems, and new processes. You will receive monthly updates – through the News & Views magazine, ARTA facts on line, and direct mail – with relevant information as you need it. This is a com- plex change and it is imperative that you read each piece to ensure you are fully informed and prepared for a smooth transition.
On another front, Mary McDougall represented CRTA at a Oct 15 zoom Calgary CARP meeting regarding lobbying for a Seniors Advocate. As many of you know this position was deleted by the UCP. More information will follow as to our involvement.
Your CRTA Board of Directors have been hard at work dealing with the normal business includ- ing providing activities for our members. Participation is always at your own risk and steps have been taken to ensure that the activities meet the required social distance and maximum numbers which now is 10 including any organizers that are present. One current activity is “Recess” organized by Myrna and Marlys. Once a month from November to June participants will meet at a park for “Recess” with complimentary hot chocolate/coffee and a cookie or something similar. Duration will vary depending on weather. Specific dates will be determined by the weather forecast.
Following the series of outdoor events that took place in September the weather was still great so an art event was organized on Oct 6 at St Patrick’s Island Park. Sketching Plus allowed you to take the next step in outdoor sketching by adding some basic color to your sketch. November then began with Snow Time Like Recess held Nov 2 at Fish Creek Park. The maximum number of participants was reached very quickly and a waiting list was started. Ice cream was safely en- joyed by all.
The Steppin’ Out Committee, with Linda Manwarren as Chair, has been making arrangements for some of their 2020 presenters to have their presentations using Zoom. The first one held on Sept 28 featured Calgary By Foot with David Peyto, author of four Calgary walking guide books. He offered some suggestions of communities to explore. The second one held Oct 26 was ARTA Retiree Benefits Plan Changes with ARTA’s Gary Sawatzky. The third one on Nov 12 was the Story of Midnapore with Doug Coats. The fourth session on Nov 25 was Learning to be Happy on Zoom with Teri Zucht. Thanks to all the organizers of the events for the great variety of sessions that are being offered.
On behalf of the CRTA Board of Directors, may you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2021.
Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Active
CRTA, like most organizations, has had to move to the “new normal”. This means that, at the moment, our activities have moved online through “zoom” or are activities that allow social distancing. To start the process, we surveyed our membership to give us feedback as to what format and what activities they would be interested in. Thanks to all those who completed the survey. We realized that it was important not to duplicate activities that were already available elsewhere. As a result, at the Zoom Board of Directors Meeting on Aug 27, CRTA activities were a major focus. One approved activ- ity is a CRTA Quilt Block Project where participants are invited to sew up one or more miscellaneous 8″ x 8″ quilt blocks which will be picked up from their doorstep. The blocks will be sewn together on the batting (with the backing supplied by CRTA) into a quilt, which will be given to someone who can use a little bit of comfort. A second activity will have the Grey Jays experimenting with a small zoom group in hopes that it will result in a larger Grey Jays zoom singalong. Other things in the works include a Grey Jays Picnic and singsong in St Patrick’s Island Park Sept 4, a Jigsaw puzzle swap again at St Patrick’s Island Park Sept 8, Plein Air Sketching/picnic with an artist at St Patrick’s Is- land Park Sept 9, a Walk with Linda at St Patrick’s Island Park Oct 1-Seniors Day. In addition, the Stepping Out Committee will be making arrangements for some of their 2021 presenters to have their presentations using Zoom with the possibility of a presentation at the Ramada in a room which would allow participants to be socially distanced. Further information on all these activities will be made available as arrangements are made.
The Annual ARTA Wellness Challenge was one activity that continued despite the pandemic. Participants logged the number of minutes that they were physically active and submitted their best 30 days between April 1 and June 30. Awards and prizes will be distributed to the top performers. The ARTA Discover Wellness Challenge will also be awarding participation prizes by random draw to all members who submit their best 30 days log sheet. Results will be announced soon.
The CRTA website (https://www.calgaryretiredteachers.org) contains a wealth of information regarding CRTA information and opportunities as well as an easy way to renew your membership or register for CRTA activities. For instance, under “News” there is an entry requesting participants for a “university research study.” There may also be opportunities for a retired teacher to be a consultant for home-schooling.
At the provincial level, the ARTA website (https://www.arta.net) is also a great source of information. During September, expect an announcement indicating how accessing your retiree plan benefits will become easier. Also, at the provincial level, the ARTA Board of Directors Meeting will be held as an “online zoom” meeting Sept 8 & 9th. On October 6 & 7, CRTA delegates will be participating in the ARTA Annual General Meeting. This again will be in the “Online Zoom” format.
Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Active