Pension CommitteeTop of page

The Pension Committee studies, monitors and advises Provincial Executive Council on pension issues of concern to the Association. The committee also reviews reports from representatives on the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF) board, the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) and Capital Estate Planning. In addition, the committee undertakes research on pension matters, and recommends changes and additions to the Association’s pension policy.

At its three meetings in 2016, the committee heard presentations from the ATRF and Capital Estate Planning, and continued to discuss the second instalment of the “My Pension—My Future” campaign, which is aimed at educating members on pension issues. While the committee also considered launching a public information campaign, it expects that such a campaign would not be received well at this time. The committee also monitored issues related to the salary cap imposed by the Income Tax Act (Regulation 203/95, Schedule 1, of the Teachers’ Pension Plans Act). During 2016, the Government of Alberta committed to seeking resolution to the matter.

With respect to ATRF, there was a reduction to pension contributions effective 2016 09 01 resulting from better than anticipated rates of return and the ability to pay off one of the deficiencies earlier than expected. Periodic reports from the ATRF board of trustees are presented to the committee. Association representatives on the ATRF board are G G Meeker (chair), K A Elgert, SLJohnston and M F Romanow.

Members of the committee are D A Bauer (chair), R L Buziak, H J Cruse, M F Doll, K A Elgert, W S Fraser (ARTA representative), K E Melnyk, L A Szmul, C M Gibbon (secretary) and S L Johnston (observer). S E Beyer is administrative secretary.

Teacher Welfare Services CommitteeTop of page

The Teacher Welfare Services Committee advises Provincial Executive Council on such matters as guidelines for negotiations, education finance, employment insurance, workers’ compensation, and insurance and benefit programs for members.

At its seven meetings in 2016, the committee performed regular tasks such as making recommendations on local resolutions; reviewing expiring current directives; planning and evaluating the Teacher Welfare Area Conference held in November; reviewing reports from organizations providing services to Association members; monitoring the Association’s Field Service program; and analyzing the status of collective bargaining throughout the province, including various initiatives from the legislated framework such as the ministerial order on teachers’ maximum instructional time. The committee also reviewed its frame of reference. A subcommittee of five members was established to review the role of the economic consultant, the criteria for selecting economic consultants and consultants’ training.

The committee received reports from Association representatives serving on the board of trustees of the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP). The ASEBP is a not-for-profit health and welfare trust offering group life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, extended health care (EHC), extended disability, dental and vision care plans, and health and wellness spending accounts for the education sector in Alberta. Statistics on teachers’ participation in the plan are provided in Table 9. Teacher representatives on the ASEBP board are M J Kischuk (vice-chair), C S Bowie, D A Lerke, K MacIsaac, S Napier and F H Kreiner (observer).

 

Table 9. Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan Statistics

Benefit

Year

Number of participating employers

Number of participants*

(teachers)

Total premiums collected

(both for teachers and nonteachers)

Total claims paid

Life insurance and

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance (AD&D)

2016

69

33,892

$12,527,000

Data not available

2015

69

32,431

$14,080,000

Extended disability benefit

2016

69

33,495

$70,660,000

2015

69

32,799

$66,163,000

Extended health care

2016

68

25,576

$84,870,000

$80,560,000

2015

68

25,334

$79,722,000

$75,471,000

Vision care

2016

63

24,509

$8,394,000

$7,770,000

2015

63

24,050

$7,877,000

$7,577,000

Dental care

2016

68

25,826

$61,671,000

$65,299,000

2015

68

25,547

$61,884,000

$62,607,000

*Not reflected in the participant counts are 302 substitute teachers and casual staff (280 in 2015) enrolled in life insurance, AD&D and extended health care. Of these, 220 are also enrolled in dental coverage (207 in 2015).

 

The figures for the 2016 calendar year are based on unaudited data and, as result, may differ from the audited figures in the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan annual report.

 

 

Morgex Insurance, a division of Johnson Inc, has been providing home and auto insurance products and services to members of the Association for more than 30 years. Morgex has been an active participant in the Association’s teachers’ convention and specialist council programs for many years and supports numerous other Association-related events throughout Alberta.

The mandate of the Association members’ Group Home and Auto Program is to provide thorough and affordable insurance coverage to Association members. Benefits offered by the home insurance program include restoration of personal identity after a theft; a single deductible for members who subscribe to both home and auto policies (with exceptions); extended coverage for laptops; first claims forgiveness; critical illness benefits; and coverage for the personal property of members, spouses or parents in a nursing home or long-term care facility. Benefits offered by the auto insurance program include a depreciation benefit, roadside assistance and first accident forgiveness (subject to eligibility). Association members also have access to a 24-hour claims service line.

The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires represented the largest natural catastrophe in Canadian history. Morgex had 633 members affected by this unprecedented event. Morgex was able to quickly execute a catastrophe plan to ensure it had adequate resources on the ground.

At the end of 2016, Association members had purchased or renewed over 40,000 policies with Morgex Insurance.

Capital Estate Planning Corporation continued to market and administer the voluntary group programs including Group Life+, Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Group Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for Association members. Since September 1990, and with amalgamation, 50 school boards have introduced payroll deduction plans to enable teachers to contribute to the Association Group RRSP program on a monthly basis.

Capital Estate Planning has negotiated with Sun Life Financial—provider for the Group Life+ program—to provide a web-based landing site with electronic enrolment forms for the Association Voluntary Group Benefits program.

Statistics on Association members’ participation in the Capital Estate Planning Group Life+ programs are represented in Table 10.

 

Table 10. Capital Estate Planning Corporation Group Life+ Program Statistics

Program

Year

Number enrolled (Association members and their spouses)

Total insurance coverage

Total premiums paid

 

Total claims paid

Group Life+*

2016

1,345

$330,075,279

$1,251,412

$25,045

2015

1,486

$330,644,900

$1,229,423

$50,179

Heart, Stroke and Cancer plan (includes 22 other illnesses)

2016

680

$20,910,000

$155,124

$50,105

2015

716

$21,075,000

$142,661

$0

*Of those enrolled in Group Life+, 161 had coverage for children (191 in 2015) and 605 were enrolled in the accidental death and dismemberment component of the program (624 in 2015).

 

The Group RESP has seen growth. As of 2016 12 31, RESP plans have been set up with contributions totalling $2,713,474 ($2,721,285).

The total Group RRSP/TFSA deposits are divided between Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and pooled funds as follows: GICs $6,145,492 ($6,583,536) and pooled funds $83,669,140 ($79,208,506).

Members of the committee are L O Richer (chair), E S Chan, N A French-Gillies, K A Newman, S J Onuczko, L Perreault, J L Regal, D A Roberts, H D Soby and S L Johnston (secretary). M J Terlaan is administrative secretary.

Central Table Bargaining CommitteeTop of page

In January 2016, the Government of Alberta enacted the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA). This legislation outlined a structure to oversee teacher collective bargaining within the province and established the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA). TEBA has representation from school boards and from the government departments of education and finance.

As a result of PECBA, the Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) was established by the Association to represent teacher interests in meetings with the TEBA. The committee’s mandate included negotiating lists of local and central matters, reviewing procedures for the conclusion of a central table agreement, directing communications to members related to central table matters and discussions, and overseeing ratification of an agreement at the central table. The committee reports to and consults with Provincial Executive Council as required.

The committee met with the TEBA six times during April and May to bargain the lists of local and central matters and achieved an agreement on the lists prior to the 2016 06 01 deadline. After holding consultations with individual economic policy committees and at Field Service meetings, the committee developed an initial proposal for central table bargaining. That proposal was ratified by Council on 2016 06 10, and central table bargaining began on 2016 06 20.

In 2016, the committee met with TEBA for a total of 13 days of bargaining. By year-end, bargaining on the lists of matters was completed and an initial proposal on central matters was ratified; no agreement was reached and negotiations continue into 2017.

During the year, the committee developed and put into effect a communications plan for central table bargaining. This plan included a Bargainer’s Blog, ATA News articles, three webcasts and distribution of information to economic policy committees. The committee also developed processes for bargaining the local and central lists of matters and for bargaining the central matters.

The members of the committee are G AJeffery (chair), D ABauer, J L Regal, J C Schilling, L A Szmul, GR Thomas (with S L Vogrinetz as Dr Thomas’s designee) and SLJohnston (secretary). PJColiton is administrative secretary. Other members of Association staff participated as needed.

Central Table BargainingTop of page

The Central Table Bargaining Committee (see section 87) is representing teacher interests in the central table bargaining process. An information meeting for economic policy committee (EPC) chairs and local presidents was held at Barnett House on 2016 01 09. The meeting allowed locals to discuss bargaining goals and the potential for local gains. Information gathered from this meeting, and from meetings with individual EPCs, was used to develop a proposal for the bargaining of central and local lists of matters.

Though collective agreements for the 61 public, separate and francophone bargaining units expired on 2016 08 31, those agreements will continue until a new agreement is reached or there is a strike or lockout.

Local Collective BargainingTop of page

The Association is the bargaining agent for 66 bargaining units in the province: 41 public, 16 separate and 4 francophone, as well as 5 charter/private schools (Almadina School Society, Aurora Academic Charter School, Boyle Street Education Centre, New Horizons Charter School and Valhalla School Foundation).

Four bargaining units engaged in midterm bargaining. Table 11 outlines the issues bargained and the results.

 

Table 11. Midterm Bargaining

Bargaining Unit

Issue

Result

Parkland SD No 70

Codification of the allowance of division principals

Agreement reached

Calgary RCSSD No 1

Professional improvement leave pilot extension

Agreement reached

High Prairie SD No 48

Establishment of a new district principal position

Agreement reached

Red Deer CRD No 39

Pay for substitute teachers hired to proctor exams

Agreement reached

 

In 2016, a collective agreement was reached with Almadina School Society.

Table 12 gives the average maximum and minimum salaries in effect as of 2016 08 31.

 

Table 12. Averages of Collective Agreements in Effect 2016 08 31

Years of Teacher Education

Minimum

Maximum

Four

59,781

94,255

Five

63,139

97,677

Six

66,870

101,442

 

On an ongoing basis throughout the year, as well as in response to specific requests by members, staff analyzed clauses in effect in various collective agreements across the province and attended bargaining unit and Economic Policy Committee meetings to present workshops and assist units in developing their communication and bargaining plans. In addition, staff produced statistical reports comparing salaries, principals’ allowances, substitute rates and group health benefit plan premium contributions.

GrievancesTop of page

Fifty-one grievances arising from alleged violations of collective agreements were initiated in 2016. Of these, 31 remain outstanding. Twenty have been resolved at the initial level, 20 are in the early stages and 11 have proceeded to arbitration. In addition, 19 cases from previous years were resolved or settled, while 35 cases from previous years remain outstanding (10 are held in abeyance, 16 are awaiting hearings, 8 have a possible settlement pending and 1 is under judicial review). Fourteen grievances in 2015 and 2016 involved the alleged failure of school boards to use best efforts to reduce teacher assigned duties. Of these, two were resolved, six are in the initial stages and six are waiting to be heard in arbitration. A summary of the status of grievances and arbitrations in progress at year-end is presented in Table 13.

 

Table 13. Status of Grievances/Arbitrations

 

Grievances

Arbitrations

 

Ongoing

In Abeyance

Resolved
at Local Level in 2016

Ongoing

Decision Received

Agreement Reached

In Abeyance

Previous Years

0

10

 

16

1

0

8

2016

15

5

20

11

0

0

0

 

During 2016, Teacher Welfare also began tracking issues that were resolved prior to grievances being filed. There were nine such issues.

Appeals to Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan and Other Insurance MattersTop of page

The Association assists and advises members on issues related to extended disability benefits (EDB) and longterm disability benefits, as well as on policy appeals related to employment insurance (EI). In 2016, the Association received 360 calls from teachers with concerns in one or more of these areas. The Association represented 18 teachers with such concerns to various appeal bodies: eight teachers were represented to the Alberta School Employees Benefit Plan (ASEBP) Board of Trustees in EDB appeal hearings; two were represented to the ASEBP Board of Trustees in policy (plan document) appeal hearings; and eight teachers were represented in appeals for EI and Canada Pension Plan Disability. The Association also liaised with other benefit plan carriers on behalf of 15 teachers. Finally, the Association provided consultation and/or representation on occupational health and safety issues brought forward by 26 teachers, working with school boards to resolve the issues. The above cases include those that also proceeded through litigation.

Teacher Welfare CourseTop of page

The Teacher Welfare Course, held at Summer Conference, is designed for teachers who are members of a local economic policy committee (EPC) and who have previously bargained with a board. The 76 delegates, representing 42 locals, who attended the 2016 course discussed such topics as the role of the EPC in the local, types and styles of negotiations, initial proposal development, communication with members and accounts, total compensation and costing. The group also participated in joint bargaining exercises, structured to simulate the current round of bargaining, with economic consultants and participants in the Introduction to Teacher Welfare Issues Course.

Teacher Welfare Education ProgramTop of page

The Teacher Welfare Education Program aims to foster economic policy committee (EPC) leadership capacity through a formalized education process and to ensure that an adequate number of EPC members are trained.

Teacher Welfare offers a three-level certificate course in leadership and negotiation skills. The objective of the certificate process is to ensure that members have access to a variety of courses and programs that will assist them in developing the skills and capacity necessary to serve as leaders on the EPC and the Negotiating Subcommittee (NSC). To achieve each level of the certificate, a member must complete all of the courses. These courses are offered at Summer Conference, Field Service meetings, the Teacher Welfare Area Conference, and meetings of the bargaining unit, local, school staff and the EPC. The syllabus for economic consultants acts as a Level IV certificate.

To date, 140 Level I, 35 Level II, 16 Level III and 14 Level IV certificates have been issued.

Introduction to Teacher Welfare Issues CourseTop of page

The Introduction to Teacher Welfare Issues Course is designed to introduce teachers to the collective bargaining process. Forty delegates, representing 28 locals and one charter school, attended the 2016 course. They received an introduction to the services provided by the Teacher Welfare program area as well as information on the role of the Economic Policy Committee in the local, the purposes of the collective agreement, types and styles of negotiation, duty of fair representation, and legislation. Participants also joined economic consultants and participants in the Teacher Welfare Course for bargaining-simulation exercises.

PublicationsTop of page

Twenty-seven articles, Q&As and infographics addressing teacher welfare matters—such as bargaining issues, pensions, workload grievances, and maternity and employment insurance—appeared in the ATA News. In addition, in 2016, the Association focused an issue of the ATA Magazine (Winter 2016) on retirement to help prepare teachers for this transition. The magazine features columns on enjoying retirement, financial aspects of retiring and key contacts at different stages of retirement, as well as two articles written by retired teachers.

To increase members’ awareness of the bargaining process, the Association established a Bargainer’s Blog. The blog, created in conjunction with the Central Table Bargaining Committee, provided 15 updates on the status of bargaining.

Staff produced two new posters: “8 ways to stay informed about bargaining” and a flowchart depicting the bilevel bargaining process.

At the direction of the Pension Committee, Association staff produced a school staff room poster summarizing the four “My Pension—My Future” campaign postcards’ messages. The “Check It Out!” brochure was also revised and renamed “The Alberta Teachers’ Pension Plan—Pension Education Program” to align it with the poster, while still providing more detailed information. Staff also updated the “Pre-Retirement Workshop” brochure, which retirement consultants employ to schedule workshops for all locals.

Field ServiceTop of page

Staff continued to meet with local committees and other groups and individuals to prepare grievance and arbitration cases; to assist teachers with extended disability and employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan appeals; and to present workshops on such topics as issues in bargaining, the role of the Economic Policy Committee in the local, teacher agreements across Canada, instructional time, school administrators and the collective agreement, case law updates and maternity leave. Statistics on the number of contacts that Teacher Welfare staff had with members in 2016 and the issues involved are reported in Table 14.

 

Table 14. Summary of Teacher Welfare Contact with Members

Issue

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Extended Disability/Sick Leaves

2,299

3,881

1,879

2,014

2,603

Maternity/Parental Leaves

905

2,307

913

1,342

1,113

Other Leaves

877

1,1182

477

571

574

Collective Agreement Issues

997

1,836

759

1,587

1,935

Bargaining

236

254

177

208

176

Pension/Retirement

260

530

269

351

418

Other

814

2,820

2,759

732

887

TOTAL

6,388

12,873

7,272

7,156

7,706

Additional Communication

1,782

3,819

1,004

1,885

1,764

 

Approximately 220 participants attended the two Field Service Program meetings, held 2016 04 16 in Calgary and 2016 04 23 in Edmonton. Among the topics addressed at these meetings were the lists of all matters with proposed central matters, the bargaining unit survey results and the school board financial data. Participants attended workshops on interest-based opening proposals and interest statements for central opening proposals on Saturday afternoon.

The Teacher Welfare Area Conference was held 2016 11 20–21 in Edmonton. Approximately 300 Association members and staff attended. The agenda included a message from the Association’s president, a general session on the topics of reduction of tasks grievances, an update on central bargaining, an update from Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan, reports on a failure to accommodate complaint and an unfair labour practice complaint, a report on unemployment insurance, and an employer panel. Participants also took part in open-table discussions on local bargaining issues, group discussions on interest-focused proposals and techniques for engagement, and workshop sessions.

Economic ConsultantsTop of page

At year-end, the corps of economic consultants (ECs) stood at 18 out of a possible 26 members. ECs assist bargaining units in preparing for negotiations and in presenting workshops to economic policy committees (EPCs) and teacher members. Consultants also keep Teacher Welfare staff informed about activities in their assigned units.

The corps met twice in Edmonton in 2016. Nineteen consultants attended the spring meeting, held 2016 03 05. Agenda items included a review of bargaining, an update on grievance arbitration, an economic forecast and a collective agreement comparison exercise. Seventeen consultants attended the fall meeting, held 2016 10 01. Agenda items included updates on central bargaining, grievance arbitrations and a Labour Relations Board decision on the Association’s duty of fair representation. In addition, participants engaged in discussions on the work and capacity of economic policy committees.

The Economic Seminar offered at Summer Conference provided the final instalment of a three-year training program. The 17 ECs attending the seminar received information on collective agreement summaries on personal/private business leave and on the recommendations of the Teacher Welfare Services Committee’s subcommittee focused on the EC’s role. Guest speakers from Field LLP and Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan provided presentations on labour trilogies, plan document and wellness. Staff provided participants with information regarding the Teacher Welfare Certification Program and directions for the upcoming year. Consultants also took part in joint bargaining simulations involving participants from the Teacher Welfare and Introduction to Teacher Welfare courses.

By year-end, consultants had carried out approximately 197 consultations with EPCs, local executives and individual members. These consultations involved attending local executive and EPC meetings, assisting with strategic planning and presenting workshops to bargaining units throughout the province.

Retirement ConsultantsTop of page

In 2016, retirement consultants attended three training meetings: one in the spring, one in the fall and one at Summer Conference. Consultants heard the following presentations, given by the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF): “Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance”; “What’s new at ATRF?”; and “The Role of ATRF Pension Counsellors.” At the meetings, Association staff also offered a presentation entitled “Presenting to Adults.” The meetings also enabled consultants to review and discuss potential changes to the Canada Pension Plan, discuss the role of the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) and consider ways in which the Association can best support consultants in fulfilling their roles. During the 2016 Summer Conference, consultants in their second year received training on many topics, including the history of the Teachers’ Pension Plan, principles in funding and Association pension policy.

Preretirement workshops (full-day sessions conducted by consultants in conjunction with sponsoring locals) remain in demand for teachers nearing retirement. The program includes presentations by ATRF, ARTA, Capital Estate Planning, Service Canada and Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan. Most workshops also include a component on wills and estates conducted by a local lawyer. Approximately 740 teachers and their spouses participated in these workshops throughout Alberta in 2016.