APRUO BULLETIN, September 2023
Rédacteur / Editor : Frans De Bruyn Traductions par / Translations by : André Lapierre
APRUO Celebrates 25th Anniversary: 1998-2023
This year’s Annual General Meeting of the APRUO, which took place on 23 May, was a special day, as we celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of our Association. It was also the first AGM since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to be held on campus (as well as online). In recognition of their past service on the Administrative Committee (AC), all fifteen surviving past members of the AC were specially invited to attend; of these, six individuals were present. The meeting boasted record attendance, and for those who participated in person there was a reception afterwards.
To mark this important milestone, the APRUO’s first President, Maurice Jetté, was invited to address the membership. In his speech, Professor Jetté recalled the circumstances of the Association’s founding, which was precipitated in part by dissatisfaction at how the University Pension Plan surplus at the time was being handled. For some time, retired academic staff at the University had been represented by a retiree committee under the aegis of the APUO, our faculty union, but the distribution of the pension surplus crystallized a feeling that the interests of retirees were not being represented adequately, and with sufficient vigour, by the APUO.
Professor Jetté acknowledged the many individuals who contributed to the founding of the APRUO, in particular, Robert Keyserlink, who insisted on the need for an independent voice on campus to represent the interests of academic retirees, and Albert Hubbard, former Dean of Common Law, who played a crucial part in the APRUO’s submissions related to the pension fund. A quarter century later we are all beneficiaries of their efforts, and we today continue to build on the sturdy foundations they laid in 1998-99.
The text of Maurice Jetté’s address is reproduced in full below. The annual report presented at this year’s AGM by our current president, Sylvie Lauzon, is also summarized below.
Maurice Jetté’s Silver Anniversary Address
Good afternoon everyone.
When Sylvie 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.
President’s Annual Report for 2023
APRUO President, Sylvie Lauzon, began her report to the Annual General Meeting on 23 May 2023 with announcements of honours conferred on two officers (past and present) of the APRUO.
First, on November 4th 2022, a very dedicated colleague on the Administrative Committee, André Lapierre, received the Order of Ontario, the province's highest civilian honour. The citation stated that André, Professor of Linguistics and Canadian Studies, is an inspirational supporter of Franco-Ontarians and other linguistically marginalized cultures, and that his book on French place names in Ontario provided the province's first comprehensive history of its kind. Moreover, his expertise on the bilingual treatment of geographical names is an important component of Ontario's French Language Services Act. On behalf of everyone, the President offered her congratulations to André on obtaining Ontario’s highest civil honour.
The second news item was not to be made official until June 1st, as part of the Annual General Meeting of ARUCC/CURAC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada /Associations de retraités des Universités et Collèges du Canada). Pierre Calvé, a past member and president of of the APRUO’s Administrative Committee and whose candidacy was submitted by the APRUO, was nominated to receive the CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Award in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the APRUO from 2015 to 2018. His time at the head of the Association gave new life to the APRUO, focusing on the well-being of its members. By strengthening the links between the University administration and the APUO, he obtained recognition for our Association as the official representative of professors, librarians and retired advisors.His mandate as President was marked by the revision of the statutes and regulations of the APRUO, the redesign of the website, and regular communications via the APRUO Bulletin. On behalf of all retired colleagues, the President congratulated Pierre on having received this exceptional recognition from his peers.
Survey of members
The last eight months have been quite busy for the Board. We have continued to deal with the usual issues, as shown by the reports from the various committees, and we have resumed writing newsletters and updating the website, particularly with rinformation regarding our benefits. We took part in APUO meetings, maintained contact with Human Resources, and met with future retirees. But on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the creation of our association and in the wake of this pandemic that has changed our routines so profoundly, we asked ourselves about the mandate of APUO and its future. Some of the questions posed by members from time to time led us to believe that our role was not clearly understood or sufficiently well known, so it was with this in mind that we carried out a member consultation last November to find out their expectations. The survey was sent out to 326 members, with a response rate of 49.1%.
The survey results were published in our March Bulletin. Basically what members told us was that they appreciated our work in taking good care of our pension and benefits. They also suggested we make the APRUO better known, provide members with more information about our benefits, keep closer contact with members and sponsor some activities. In the light of these results, and in the context of the fairly marked drop in our membership this year, we have developed a four-point action plan that I am sharing with you today, even if all the specific means are not yet determined.
- We aim to make APRUO better known by having its mandate, achievements, and activities made more tangible to the membership. This means: (a) the creation of a communication manager position, (b) publication of quarterly bulletins, (c) a constant update of the website, and (d) sending emails to members about changes to the website or other important news.
- We need to focus on our recruitment and membership retention strategies. This entails (a) meeting future retirees during the retirement preparation session (b) sending personalized messages to new retirees, (c) pursuing our efforts with Human Resources to make possible the optional deduction of membership dues at source.
- We aim to enrich information on our various benefits: (a) short texts in our newsletters, (b) dding information on our website.
- We would like to suggest activities that promote the development and socialization of our members through the following initiatives : (a) creation of a Special Projects Committee with a person in charge, (b) creation of a Volunteer Pool, (c) setting up virtual conferences, (d) suggesting at least one social activity per year outside the AGM, (e) enhancement of the ‘Useful Links’ section on the website.
Administrative Committee: Thank You to New and Departing Members
This summer has marked the departure of three stalwart members of the APRUO Administrative Committee (AC): Rachel Grondin, Vasek Mezl, and Gail Ivanoff. Rachel served as Vice-President from 2017 to 2023 and managed the Association’s In Memoriam records. Vasek Mezl was member-at-large, also from 2017 to 2023, with responsibility for liaison with the University’s office in charge of campus parking. Gail Ivanoff, also member-at-large, resigned last spring, indicating that she was unable to continue to serve on the Committee. On behalf of the Association, we thank all three warmly for their contributions to the AC over the past several years.
A warm welcome to three new members of the AC: Doug Angus, Marie Drolet, and Raymond Leblanc. These new members will serve a mandate from 2023 to 2026.
Do you make full use your Health Care Spending Account (HCSA)?
We would like to remind APRUO members of the Health Care Spending Account available annually to those members who retired on or after May 1, 2001. Currently the annual amount allocated to each member’s HCSA is $1,350. We offer this reminder because a significant proportion of eligible members leave all or part of their HCSAs unspent at the end of the annual eligibility period.
The HCSA can be used to pay for any eligible out-of-pocket health and dental expenses. It can also be used to defray the premium cost of purchasing a private extended health insurance plan, as many of our members do after their retirement. Unused HCSA credits at the end of each year are added to the next year's HCSA balance and can be carried over for one year. See the APUO Collective Agreement, section 40.9, for further details.
At the request of the Association, Human Resources (HR) has presented us with updated statistics about the actual usage of HCSAs by our members. The statistics provide by HR of HCSA usage over the past three years show that many of our members do not use this benefit to its fullest extent. The numbers indicate that a significant portion of health-care funds are being left on the table. So this is a friendly reminder to everyone to make as full use of this benefit as possible.
CURAC/ARUCC celebrates its 20th Anniversary
CURAC/ARUCC held its Annual General Meeting and Conference from May 31 to June 2, 2023 at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, under the auspices of the University of Saskatchewan Retiree Association (USRA). This was the first time since 2020 that CURAC/ARUCC had held the meeting in a hybrid format, and the association celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding at the same time. Interestingly, APRUO celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2023, being one of the very first associations of retired academics to join CURAC/ARUCC in 2003.
There were some 60 attendees from all across Canada, with a significant participation by USRA members. APRUO was represented by our President, Sylvie Lauzon who attended the AGM remotely by Zoom on May 31, as well as André Lapierre, who attended in person as a member of the CURAC/ARUCC Board of Directors. The Conference Program was spread over the following two days. A special 20th Anniversary program featured a fireside chat with former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, as well as a video presentation by Peter H. Russell, University of Toronto, founding president of CURAC/ARUCC.
The topics covered during the conference were all topical, grouped under the theme "The New World" and presented in four sessions:
The New World of Higher Education: The Pandemic, Digital Technology and Change.
The New World: Societal Changes, Canadian Political Schisms or Rythyms.
The New World: Research and Development.
The New World of Health Services.
The question period was marked by sometimes lively but always polite and instructive exchanges. Unfortunately, the conference could not be broadcast in hybrid mode due to the high cost of simultaneous interpretation.
A festive banquet concluded the event, during which 7 CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Awards were presented. These awards recognize local retirement association members who have contributed exceptional post-retirement service to their host institution’s retirement community. Our former president, Pierre Calvé, was nominated by APRUO and was among the awardees of the prize.
CURAC/ARUCC will hold its 2024 Conference and AGM at the University of Waterloo, May 22-24. Tous les membres de l’APRUO y sont cordialement invités. Mark your calendars !
André Lapierre (APRUO Delegate to CURAC/ARUCC)
Website Improvements: News from Members
The Administrative Committee is always looking at ways to improve communication with the APRUO membership, and an important facet of our communications is the Association’s website, at www.apruo.ca. Given the demographic profile of our Association, making the website accessible to members who may have visual or other challenges that make it difficult for them to use the Internet is an important priority that we are currently working on. An internationally accepted standard for web accessibility called WCAG 2.0, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, offers a guide to what can be done to improve our website.
On the subject of website improvements, we are also interested in developing a web page that would share news from members: reports on continued scholarly research, for example, or accounts of new post-retirement activities, achievements, and pursuits undertaken by our members. Stay tuned for further news about these initiatives.
APRUO Membership Renewal
The key to our effectiveness as an Association is the support we receive from our membership. If your membership has lapsed or if you have not previously joined the Association, we’d like to encourage you to sign up.
To renew your membership is very easy:
- - Go to https://apruo.ca/user/signin/?goto=membership%2Frenew-membership
And follow the instructions for existing users (“Renew Membership”) or for new members (“Become a Member”).
- - Send an “INTERAC” transfer of $25, $50 or $75 (1, 2 or 3 years) to email@example.com
- - send a cheque to APRUO in one of those amounts to:
University of Ottawa
141 Louis Pasteur
OTTAWA K1N 6N5