May 23, 2019
Jeff Norton, chief executive officer the Teachers’ Retirement Allowances Fund (TRAF) says that the plan continues to be strong, as expected. The plan actuary concluded that current funding levels are adequate to provide for the current level of benefits, and no changes to the member contribution rate will be needed at this time.
The plan projects it will stay fully funded for at least the next 20 years, though there are trends that could affect the plan in the future, including investment returns, early retirement provisions and the increasing longevity of retirees.
As well, the government’s portion of the pension will need further funding to prevent the funded status from deteriorating. The long-term sustainability and health of TRAF would be enhanced if the government made additional payments to the fund.
The July, 2019 COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) has been set at 1.23%, but it is difficult to predict future COLAs, given the number of variables involved. As of right now, the projections suggest that COLA averaging approximately 0.93% over the long term could be granted under the current plan structure, but future COLA amounts are not guaranteed.
The current membership profile of TRAF is 42.2 per cent active teachers, 39.6 per cent retirees, and 18.2 per cent deferred members (inactive members who have contributions remaining in the plan, and who will be entitled to a benefit). The number of retired members is expected to exceed the number of active members in the near future. TRAF projects the average years on pension will be 31 years for females, and 29 for males.
TRAF also shared that:
- The average age of retirement for females is 60, and for males 60.1
- The average age of service for females is 25 years, and for males 29.9 years
- The oldest retired female is 108 and the oldest male is 102 years old.
Outgoing MTS President Norm Gould opened his remarks to the 100th Provincial Council meeting of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society by acknowledging the incredible accomplishment that is 100 years of standing up for public education.
It all began on April 22, 1919, when hundreds of Manitoba’s teachers poured into the Industrial Bureau at Main and Water Streets to organize themselves at their first general meeting.
“They were fighting for fair wages. They wanted better working conditions. They wanted a real voice when it came to how students were being taught, and they demanded respect for the teaching profession. We are here today, celebrating a century of solidarity, because they laid that foundation,” he said.
That solidarity has made the Society a force as we begin our next Centennial. And it’s already shaping up to be a battle.
The issues that brought those teachers together in the evening of April 22, 1919, are well and alive. Wages, working conditions, having teachers’ voices heard, and respect are all at the forefront of the Society’s considerations today.
“We are about to complete the first full year of implementation of the unproclaimed Bill-28 that imposed forced wage restrictions on public sector employees. Fair wages continue to be a priority for the Society in 2019.”
Gould also pointed out that teachers’ working conditions are under siege through inadequate educational funding from this provincial government that doesn’t match the rate of inflation. He also stated his concern that teachers’ voices aren’t being sought by the present government, and that teachers don’t have a seat on the commission for the upcoming K-12 education review.
“Despite the fact that our polling shows an overwhelming level of trust and comfort in the school system by the public and that public school teachers are the true authority on public education.”
Gould acknowledged the absence of the Minister of Education Kelvin Goertzen at this year’s provincial council – the first time an education minister has been absent since 1996 when Linda McIntosh was uninvited from speaking at AGM. Cancelled meetings and lack of communication from the government are worrisome, he said.
He also expressed concern about the upcoming K-12 education review and what that will mean for teachers.
“Next year, at our 101st meeting of provincial council, we will be trying to get our heads around amalgamations, imposition of a college of teachers, removal of principals, and vice principals from the bargaining unit, provincially appointed school boards and superintendents and perhaps a new provincial bargaining model.”
“I have faith in the membership, I have trust in our Locals and Local Leadership, I have the utmost faith in our staff and the work they do. Our collective strength is what will win the day. No matter the challenges, a strong, unified Society will prevail.”
Whistleblower Protection Approved
Whistleblowers within The Manitoba Teachers’ Society will now have protection following a vote at the MTS annual general meeting.
Delegates adopted procedures that would protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, defined as “conduct which is unlawful, dangerous, involves gross mismanagement of funds or assets or is contrary to the constitution, bylaws or policies of the Society or its related entities.”
The policy says “members reporting reasonably held concerns in good faith shall not be subject to repercussions or reprisal by the Society or its related entities.”
Introduced by the provincial executive, the policy establishes “clear lines of reporting and required actions in the event of wrongdoing being reported.”
May 24, 2019
Women in Leadership Committee
Delegates passed a resolution on Friday, May 24, that a Women in Leadership (WEL) committee continue to implement an action plan to encourage more women to apply for leadership roles.
Last year the committee focused on planning for a three-year timeline for rollout of the eight WELCOM recommendations, as well as on the content and implementation of the Leadership Learning Series for 2019-2020.
The committee will continue to plan for implementation of the recommendations including creating a Women in Leadership Support Network, providing child care at Provincial Council, and conducting focus groups with younger women in the profession.
The delegates also voted to continue funding WEL Implementation Planning Grants for 2019-2020.
New Executive Elected
James Bedford will be president of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society for 2019-2021, following votes at the union’s annual general meeting. Bedford was the immediate vice-president.
The full Provincial Executive for the upcoming year is:
James Bedford, President (Louis Riel)
Nathan Martindale, Vice-President (Winnipeg)
Members at Large:
Sonja Blank (Mountain View)
Carla Bouchard (Pembina Trails)
Jeff Cieszecki (Seven Oaks)
Kent McPherson (St. James Assiniboia)
Cynthia Taylor (Louis Riel)
Cale Dunbar (Brandon)
Chris Darazsi (River East Transcona)
Kerry Enns (Border Land)
Catherine Hart (Seven Oaks)
Bea Walker (Flin Flon)
Valérie Rémillard (Louis Riel)
Organizing Teachers working within First Nations School Systems
Delegates overwhelmingly agreed that the Society strike an ad-hoc committee to study the feasibility of establishing new Locals with Associate Members of Regular Teachers or Substitute Teachers employed by the Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS), First Nations, or First Nation Education Authorities.
The resolution, introduced by Lakeshore Teachers’ Association, states that “…there are many teachers in Manitoba employed (within First Nations School Systems) who may want to become Society members, but lack information, resources, infrastructure and job security to initiate the process themselves.”
“We have an opportunity to extend solidarity to all Manitoba teachers and make our union stronger.”
May 25, 2019
Teachers Join in Solidarity Parade
Hundreds of Manitoba public school teachers joined with hundreds of others in a parade to commemorate the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.
Delegates to the MTS Annual General Meeting took a break from business on Saturday, May 25, to join hundreds of other Manitobans in the solidarity parade through downtown Winnipeg.
The 1919 strike began just weeks after the Manitoba Teachers’ Federation (which became The Manitoba Teachers’ Society) was created. Much of the AGM was in celebration of the formation of the union and the accomplishments achieved for teachers, students and public education in general.
History was on full display at this year’s meeting with displays of documents and artifacts, a reproduction of the first issue of The Manitoba Teacher (then called The Bulletin) and the unveiling of a website dedicated to the Society’s first 100 years.