ALBERTA POLICIES AND ISSUES THAT AFFECT OUR MEMBERS

The mission of the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) and its 24,500 retired teacher and affiliate members is to support an engaged lifestyle after retirement through member-centred services, advocacy, communication, wellness and leadership. As an organization, we are non-partisan, and encourage active involvement and participation in the political process. As part of that encouragement, we have an organisational priority of informing our membership of the positions of interest and importance to seniors and retirees.

April 2019

We have sought out responses from all twelve of Alberta’s registered political parties on the following matters that most affect our members:

  1. What is your party’s commitment to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Coverage for Seniors Benefit?
  2. What are your party’s plans to improve the access to safe and affordable assisted-living facilities?
  3. How would you make aging in place and/or Home Care a more viable solution and option for our senior population?
  4. Specify essential programs and identify the funding your party will put in place to support all seniors in Alberta.
  5. What are your party’s plans to enhance the availability of resources to provide health care for seniors in Alberta? (i.e. geriatricians)
  6. What is your party’s position to ensure that there are appropriate programs (tax and wellness initiatives) in place for seniors so they can continue to maintain an active and affordable lifestyle in retirement?
  7. What does your party see as the role of the Alberta Office of the Seniors’ Advocate?
  8. Does your party have any other policy positions that you feel would be of interest to Alberta seniors?

Their responses are contained within the following documents and posted as received by ARTA. Note that we have formatted all of the responses to look the same, but the content contained within is transcribed precisely from the party.

Communist Party-Alberta - Alberta Election 2019
Alberta’s NDP - Alberta Election 2019
Green Party of Alberta - Alberta Election 2019
Liberal Party of Alberta - Alberta Election 2019
United Conservative Party - Alberta Election 2019

April 12, 2021

It is a common goal for Albertans to want the best education possible for students in our province. With the recent draft of the new curriculum released by the Alberta government, ARTA has become concerned that Alberta is turning away from its history of excellence in education.

We have voiced our concerns to the Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, and urge her to reconsider the implementation of this curriculum. ARTA offers its assistance in correcting this misstep, so we can work together in our goal of top-tier education for all Albertan students.

 

Letter to Minister LaGrange - Proposed Alberta Curriculum

September 27, 2019

ARTA’s common concern for all Albertans (teachers, retired teachers, politicians, parents, grandparents and all other Albertans) is, and always should be, the best possible education for Alberta students. When the Alberta government advised the Alberta Teachers’ Association that it was cancelling the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding with the Association which established a partnership to advance provincial curriculum development, concerns surfaced.

Our second concern is the delay in the implementation of the K-4 curriculum. The most recent elementary curriculum was implemented in 2007 which is twelve years ago and in need of updating.

Letter sent by ARTA to Minister of Education LaGrange


October 2021

Once the IMA was in place, ATRF was able to proceed to transfer the remaining assets to AIMCo. On October 5, 2021, ATRF announced that this process has now concluded and all assets are now under AIMCo’s management as per the legislation and legislated deadlines.


September 2021

ATRF and AIMCo Agree to an IMA


March 2021

Management of Real Estate and Private Equity Assets Moved to AIMCo


February 2021

Management of the First Group of ATRF Assets Moved to AIMCo: Infrastructure:


January 21, 2021

ARTA president Lorna McIlroy and ATA President Jason Schilling joined Mark Connolly on CBC Radio to discuss the changes to ATRF pension management.


January 15, 2021

On December 23, 2020, Finance Minister Travis Toews signed a ministerial order which imposed an investment management agreement between the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund (ATRF) and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). This imposed agreement essentially gives AIMCo a veto when it comes to any recommendations ATRF makes regarding the investment of teachers’ pensions. A full press release is available on the ARTF website.

I have sent a letter to Minister Toews expressing the betrayal felt by Alberta’s retired teachers upon hearing of this latest broken promise. If you would like to make your own voice heard, visit HandsOffMyPension.ca where a template is available to send a letter directly to your MLA.

– Lorna McIlroy, ARTA President

Letter from ARTA president to Minister Toews regarding Imposed Agreement

Some of you have already heard back from your MLA. We would like to share with you rebuttals to the talking points now being used.

“Similar IMAs have long been successful in the responsible management of pensions for other Alberta public service employees.”

The finance minister imposed new IMAs on other pension boards too. And those workers also feel that their ability to direct investments are being eroded.

“The ministerial order was necessary as a temporary measure to ensure that the pension plan remains appropriately managed.”

ATRF has very effectively managed teacher pension investments for over 80 years. There was no need to rush the transfer by imposing an IMA now.

“Once the parties agree to a final IMA, the ministerial order will no longer be in effect. We are confident that ATRF and AIMCo will be able to come to an agreement.”

In negotiations, AIMCo has not been willing to give ATRF full control over how pension funds are invested. Why would AIMCo move on this now, knowing that their position is backstopped by the ministerial order?

Thanks for your ongoing support. If you haven’t already done so, send a message to your MLA at handsoffmypension.ca.


July 7, 2020

Thank you very much to all our members who quickly sent in written stakeholder submissions supporting Bill 203, the Pension Protection Act. Unfortunately, more than 3,450 submissions were not enough to convince a majority of committee members to allow Bill 203 a full debate in the legislature. ARTA will continue to support ATRF as they move forward, and we will continue to ensure a unified voice is heard on issues affecting current and future retired individuals.

– Lorna McIlroy, ARTA President


June 30, 2020

Bill 203, the Pension Protection Act, has been introduced in the legislature. If passed, it would reverse the changes contained in Bill 22: Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, 2019 that affect public sector pension plans.

Notably, Bill 203 would reverse the requirement of the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF) to transfer investment management to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo).

Letter from ARTA president to Standing Committee regarding Bill 203


June 3, 2020

ATRF has worked diligently to provide facts and resources for pension plan members. Of particular note is a comparison of ATRF investment returns with simulated AIMCo returns over the seven-year period. Below is a link to information and resources on your ATRF pension.


April 27, 2020

In response to the reported four billion dollar loss by AIMCo, ARTA President Lorna McIlroy sent a letter to Honourable Travis Toews on behalf of all ARTA members.

Open Letter sent by ARTA to Minister of Finance Toews


October 30, 2019

ARTA has received many inquiries regarding the proposed legislative amendment to make Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) the exclusive investment manager of the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF). ARTA endeavoured to collect and share pertinent information on this amendment and has posted them on our website for all of our members to view. As further details become available, we will continue to share any relevant information with you.

Lorna McIlroy, President


The following are questions that have been identified and will need to be answered by the Government of Alberta prior to any legislation changes.

  1. Will the mandate of AIMCo in investing teachers’ pension funds be focused exclusively on ensuring the security and sustainability of the pension plan into the future, or will AIMCo be subject to direction from the government to promote the government’s preferred economic development strategies?
  2. Will the government cover the costs associated with this transition or will this be left to the ATRF and teachers to absorb?
  3. What strategies and steps will AIMCo undertake to build confidence and support among its clients?
  4. Currently, if an investment manager does not perform, the ATRF can fire them and move the funds to another manager. As AIMCo will be the exclusive investment manager for ATRF, what recourse will the ATRF board have if it is unsatisfied with AIMCo’s performance?
  5. The government chose not to provide any notice of this significant change to the co-sponsor of the plan. What assurances do we have that the government will work cooperatively with ATA and ATRF to ensure the financial wellbeing and welfare of teachers in the future?

The “fact sheet” linked below originates with Alberta Finance. Note that this is the Government of Alberta’s characterization of the transfer of ATRF investment management.

A letter sent by ARTA President Lorna McIlroy to President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews is linked below

A letter sent by ATA President Jason Schilling to Auditor General of Alberta Doug Wylie is linked below

A letter sent by Minister of Finance Travis Toews to ARTA President Lorna McIlroy is linked below

November 27, 2019

The Government of Alberta will propose new legislation called the “Choice in Education Act”. Their policy includes instituting an American-style voucher system that would reduce the amount of funding available for public, separate and Francophone schools and impact students, particularly those most vulnerable.

We asked our members to have their voice heard by filling out a survey that closed on December 6th. Over 3000 members took part in the survey and made an impact.

Letter sent by ARTA to Minister of Education LaGrange

December 10, 2019

ARTA members were very pleased when the Alberta Government announced the creation of a Seniors Advocate in Alberta – focusing on seniors’ unique needs (including health, accommodation, finance, and other senior-related matters). When the announcement came that the newly elected government is now phasing out that role and placing that mandate under the direction of the Alberta Health Advocate, we were concerned.

We at ARTA believe it is important that this government support the growing demographic of a senior’s population. Our association calls for the re-institution of the role of the Seniors Advocate, ensuring that seniors in Alberta are cared for. We believe now is the time to invest in programs to assist seniors to ensure that they can live an engaged lifestyle after retirement.

Letter sent by ARTA to Minister of Seniors and Housing Pon

Effective March 1, 2020, family members (spouses and dependents) younger than 65 years of age will no longer be covered by the Coverage for Seniors program. Albertans 65 years of age and older will continue to be covered by the program.

How does this affect me?

If you and your family members are already all over aged 65, this will not affect you.

If any of you, your spouse or your dependent(s) on your Health Benefits Plan is under aged 65 (sixty five), those individuals will no longer be covered by the Coverage for Seniors program. That means that ARTA will become first payer for covered items. It is important to review your prescription drug coverage maximum if this affects you; if you need to increase your drug maximum from $1,200 per person per year to $2,000 per person per year you may do so by notifying ASEBP in writing. Note that a higher monthly premium will apply, and your coverage will be locked-in for 24 months before you can decrease your coverage again if you elect to make this change.

Do I need additional prescription drug coverage?

If you have significant prescription drug expenses and the ARTA coverage does not appear to be sufficient, you may enrol in the Non-group Coverage in order to receive the same coverage you had prior to this change being implemented. There is an additional premium charge payable for this coverage, however. If you apply before March 1 the waiting period is waived. More information is available on the Non-Group Coverage webpage of the Govt of Alberta website.

What happens when my spouse turns 65?

Your spouse will receive a package in the mail prior to their sixty-fifth birthday asking them to submit proof-of-age documents as required. If you do not receive the package, contact the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) office.

Once they are successfully enrolled in the Coverage for Seniors program, the Government of Alberta will once again become first payer on covered items, and ARTA will automatically become second payer.

I’m over 65, but still received a letter in the mail asking for proof-of-age documents. What do I do?

If you were defaulted into the program because your spouse was over 65, you were not required to submit proof of age at the time. You are now being asked to do so in order to remain in the Coverage for Seniors program.

You will need to submit a proof-of-age document and a completed Proof-of-Age Declaration form (PDF, 149 KB)

Acceptable proof-of-age documents include:

  • birth certificate
  • old-age pension entitlement form
  • passport or immigration record
  • Canadian citizenship certificate

Take your proof-of-age document and declaration to an AHCIP authorized registry agent for processing. You can also mail the completed form and a copy (both sides) of the proof-of-age document to the AHCIP office.

I have a question that isn’t answered here. What do I do?

You can contact the ARTA office at 780-822-2400 or info@arta.net.

You can also contact the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan office by phoning 780-427-1432 (toll free in Alberta by first dialing 310-0000).

October 27, 2020

In response to the recent strikes by health care workers in the Province of Alberta, ARTA would like to recognize and voice our association’s appreciation of the extraordinary efforts of all healthcare workers on our behalf during this pandemic.

Many of our members are concerned about planned changes to the healthcare system that will effect these workers, the level of care which will be provided, and the impacts we as seniors will feel. We urge our members to contact their MLA, the Health Minister, or the Premier to express their opinions.

If you would like to contact your MLA and voice your opinions on any of these items, we encourage you to do so.

For ARTA members residing in provinces other than Alberta, we encourage you to contact the Cabinet minister with the appropriate ministry for your concern.