History and Accomplishments
The APRUO was formed in 1998 in response to concerns of retired academic staff at the University of Ottawa that their interests as retirees and their voices on issues of the day were not adequately represented. The initial impetus for the Association’s founding resulted from the question of how the sizable pension plan surplus at the time should be managed, but over time the Association has evolved to further the interests of its members on a large range of issues and promote good relations with all members of the University community.
Over time, the APRUO has gained recognition by the University Administration and the Association of Professors at the University of Ottawa (APUO) as the official representative of the University's academic retirees, with voting representation on key committees and direct access to the Administration. Recently, in collaboration with the Administrative Staff Retirees Association (ASRA), we successfully lobbied for catch-up pension indexation increases covering previous years when full indexation was not credited. In the transition to the new health care benefits administrator, Canada Life, during the autumn of 2020, we provided information to members, sponsored an online information session, and assisted members who encountered problems with the transition. These are only two current examples of the work the APRUO does on behalf of its members.
Our Twenty-Fifth Anniversary
At its annual general meeting on 23 May 2023, the APRUO celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Association. On this auspicious occasion the APRUO's first President, Maurice Jetté, was invited to give an address reflecting on the founding/creation of the Association in 1998-1999. The text of Professor Jetté's speech is given below.
Maurice Jetté’s Address on the Founding of the APRUO
When our current President, Sylvie Lauzon, asked me to say a few words about the beginnings of the Association, I hesitated. I had put away all my files and after such a long time, it could be that my memory was less than accurate. Fortunately, Sylvie sent me the minutes of our first General Assembly, which were very useful to me. Thank you Sylvie.
I would like to begin by acknowledginging that it was Bob Keyserlink who took the initiative to create the APRUO in 1998. Before our association’s existence, there had been, for some time, a Retirees' Committee, which sat under the aegis of the APUO. Bob was the president. I was a member. However, he said he was concerned about the APUO’s stance vis à vis the committee.
It appears that Bob was rarely consulted, little interest was shown in our demands, and above all, a palpable lack of support was expressed for retirees in the controversial pension fund issue—a climate he described as a “hostile environment”. In his view, we needed to form a new independent entity in order to represent our members adequately.
At a meeting (I don't remember exactly when), a proposal was made and apporved to form an association of retired professors independent of the APUO. In mid-December, 1998, Bob called a special meeting to form a working group to establish the new association. With the consent of the committee, he appointed me to assume this responsibility. I accepted – without really realizing what this job would entail.
At the start of the new year (1999), we got to work. This new committee was made up of five or six members who had served on the old committee, including Marcel LeBlanc, Marie Mellon, Bill Orban, Gord Boreham, Agnes Sulyok, Ralph Tross, and, I believe, Constance Nozzolino. I subsequently invited Bert Hubbard, retired Dean of the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law, who accepted the position of secretary; and Roop Keserwani, retired from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who became our treasurer.
Now everything had to be put in place: the organization of an Administration Committee, reservation of a place for our meetings, communication with retirees, preparation of the required documentation – and so on.At our first meetings, we adopted a constitution. We obtained the list of names of retirees. Roop took care of the addresses and envelopes, and we began our mailings in preparation for our first General Assembly, scheduled for May 1999. We sealed many envelopes in those early years! The APRUO was finally on its way.
We received much moral support from the University Administration, including from Marcel Hamelin, the Rector at the time. But basically, we were penniless. Fortunately, Carole Workman, Vice-Rector Resources, provided us with start up funds that we greatly needed and eventually with a permanent office at 176 Laurier Ave. We also managed to get free mailing privileges from the University post office, as well as free parking from Protection Services.
After a number of committee meetings, we convened our first annual general meeting in May of 1999, constitution in hand. Our main focus, however, had been the pension fund affair. In fact, this is what precipitated the formation of the association. The pension surplus created a serious problem that was naturally of much concern for retirees. Bert Hubbard and I spent much time in meeting with various persons of authority on the subject in order to gather support for our cause. It paid off.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Bert Hubbard’s exceptional contribution to the Association. Bert was well known on campus and his stature opened many doors to us. He agreed to join us, notwithstanding that he was deeply involved at the time in a Human Rights Case in Toronto. He played a crucial part in our submissions related to the pension fund, which led to a very satisfactory settlement – on top of his excellent work as our Secretary. I will be forever grateful to him and to the Committee members for their support during my term.
And this, to the best of my memory, is how my little story about the beginning of our Association ends. Thank you for your attention.