Autumn View Winter Edition 1, 2022

Ontario Public Service Employees Union flag
Facebook
Twitter
Email

A Message from the Chair

Anyone who thinks the existing crisis in our hospitals has been caused by COVID is greatly misinformed. There is no question that COVID has thrown an unfortunate spotlight on the situation and definitely has exacerbated the problem, but our hospitals have been in dire straits for some time.

Back in January 2020, before COVID came to Canada, Brampton city council declared a state of emergency.  Council said hospitals were pushed to the brink and warned that peoples lives were at risk. That is because Canadian hospitals have fewer acute care beds, doctors and nurses per person than most other developed countries.

During COVID times the extra beds required because of this virus has shown us how utterly overwhelmed the system is and how close to complete collapse our hospitals are. Thousands of emergency procedures are getting postponed and proper care for cardiac treatment and cancer programs are delayed because of it.

The cause of this of course is chronic both provincially and nationally, especially in the larger populated provinces where caps on hospital beds and the number of procedures might seem to keep hospital budgets in check but staff shortages are not going to improve especially with only a one per cent wage increase for working level hospital employees like nurses, PSWs, cleaning staff, etc.

We must put lots of money in our hospitals and we need to do it now! Going cheap will only mean we move the problems further down the road.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU/SEFPO Retired Members Division

 

OPSEU/SEFPO joins Ontario Health Coalition call to fix health care staffing crisis

January 14, 2022 – 5:02 pm

This morning, OPSEU/SEFPO called on the Ford government to take immediate steps to fix the health care staffing crisis at a press conference held by the Ontario Health Coalition. A statement was released with a list of demands signed on by many unions and advocacy groups including OPSEU/SEFPO.

Jill McIllwraith, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Health Care Divisional Council, told the media about how drastic understaffing is affecting our members in hospitals, long-term care and home care.

“Every hospital position is incredibly-short staffed, including RPNs, PSWs, clerical staff, food services, environmental services – all of them,” said McIllwraith, who works in a hospital herself as an RPN. “Laboratory Technologists have had to do all the COVID-19 testing on top of their regular work with the same number of staff. Pharmacy technicians are leaving hospitals to work in higher-paying vaccine clinics. Hospital professionals are burning out and retiring and not being replaced as they leave.”

“People are leaving hospital work because nobody feels safe in a hospital right now,” continued McIllwraith. “We’re risking our lives. We know when we go to work, we’re running into people with COVID-19. We’re constantly being called in for overtime and we can’t take vacation. And we can’t even negotiate higher wages because of Bill 124.”

Home care is dominated by private, for-profit corporations, and that has resulted in low wages and benefits and lack of full-time work. This has always caused staff retention issues, but the pandemic has made it even worse. “Hospitals are pushing patients out of hospitals and into their homes more quickly to limit exposure to COVID-19,” explained McIllwraith. “As a result, community nurses and PSWs are dealing with more complex cases.”

The media present at the event were told some particularly heartbreaking stories by workers, advocates and family members of residents in long-term care, about residents who have not been getting some of their most basic care needs met over the last few weeks due to a collapse in long-term care home staffing.

The reasons for that collapse are obvious: long-term care workers are burning out and quitting or going on sick leave because they have to care for way too many residents with too few staff. They’re getting sick with COVID-19. And they’re not getting paid enough.

The immediate course of action is also obvious, according to McIllwraith. “Mr. Ford is going to have to open his purse strings or the “health care heroes” will keep handing in their capes. We need to repeal Bill 124 and immediately boost the wages of all health care workers.”

McIllwraith also emphasized OPSEU/SEFPO’s call to get profit out of long-term care and home care. “For-profit owners will always understaff and cut corners on care when there is a profit motive to do so,” she said. “Stop giving contracts to for-profit home care companies. Stop selling public land to private developers to build long-term care homes. Stop issuing operating licenses to private, for-profit long-term care homes. Long-term care and home care should be fully public.”

From OPSEU/SEFPO website

 

New OPS Unified Collective Agreement Changes that will Affect OPS Retirees

Insured Benefits

Article 39 and 67

  • Effective January 1, 2022, charges for the services of a psychologist (which shall include Master of Social Work) up to $80 per half-hour from $40 per half-hour, to an annual maximum of $1600, up from $1400.
  • Effective January 1, 2023, charges for the services of a licensed chiropractor, osteopath, naturopath, podiatrist, physiotherapist, and masseur to a maximum of $30, up from $25, for each visit to an annual maximum of $1200 per type of practitioner following O.H.I.P. and speech therapist $30 per half hour, to an annual maximum of $1400.
  • Effective January 1, 2024, charges for the services of a licensed chiropractor, osteopath, naturopath, podiatrist, physiotherapist, and masseur to a maximum of $35, up from $30, for each visit to an annual maximum of $1200 per type of practitioner following O.H.I.P. and speech therapist, up to $35 per half hour, to an annual maximum of $1400.

Legally Qualified Medical Practitioner

New Appendix

  • Based on an arbitrated decision, a Legally Qualified Medical Practitioner has been defined as: a Physician, Dentist or Nurse Practitioner practicing within their scope of practice.
  • Simply put, anyone that can write a prescription can write a doctor’s note.  (For instance, this does not include Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Psychologist, etc.)

 Administrative Changes to Health Care Plan

  • Implementation of prior authorization program: doctors are familiar with this program because it is standard within the industry, the doctor will have to communicate a rationale to the insurance carrier to prescribe more expensive drugs, individuals already on these drugs are grand-parented into the program so they will not have to obtain an authorization for the drugs they are currently prescribed.
  • Enhanced Mandatory Generic Substitution: reimbursement of drugs will be based on the lowest cost eligible generic drug price. If the patient cannot tolerate the generic, medical evidence can be submitted to support why the brand-drug is being prescribed.
  • Establishment of a Dispensing Fee Cap for prescription drugs of $11.99 per prescription.
  • Implementation of annual dispensing fee cap to 5 times per calendar year in relation to prescribed maintenance drugs that can be reasonably dispensed over a longer term. Examples of maintenance drugs are drugs for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol. If you start on one dosage and the doctor increases the dosage, this restarts the dispensing fee cap count. They do not include drugs used for mental health.
  • Implementation of Manulife Drug Watch Program: The program analyzes new drugs and compares them to drugs that are currently on the market for similar conditions. Before the new drug is approved by the Insurance Carrier, they have to undergo the review process to limit the cost of new drugs.
  • Specialty Drug Care Program: Mandatory program which provides a nurse case manager for individuals taking medications to treat complex, chronic or life-threatening conditions to assist with treatment of these conditions.
  • Injectable Vitamin B6/B12 Coverage: Coverage will be limited to injectable Vitamin B6/B12 expenses incurred in relation to treatment considered reasonable and customary for a patient’s medical condition.

NOTE: New $300 Spending Account DOES NOT include retirees

From OPS Unified Table Talk Issue 4

 

OPSEU/SEFPO calls on province to increase living income for people with disabilities

December 22, 2021

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO leaders are calling on the province to re-work their Poverty Reduction Strategy with a focus on providing a decent living wage for people with disabilities.

Since the new Poverty Reduction Strategy was announced one year ago, OPSEU/SEFPO members working in the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) have expressed concern over the plan. While the province claims its plan will reduce poverty, OPSEU/SEFPO’s leaders note that it fails to provide a living income that’s above the poverty line.

“The cost of living has been steadily going up every year,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “While we’re pleased to see other rates go up to reflect that reality, like the minimum wage, there have been no such increases to Ontario’s social assistance programs in years. Thousands of Ontarians who live with disabilities are limited in their abilities to work and care for themselves and aren’t receiving enough to survive. It’s time to do what’s right and ensure people with disabilities receive a fair living income.”

The union says the benefit rate for Ontario’s social assistance programs, including the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Ontario Works (OW), and Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program (ACSD), has been stagnant since 2018 and throughout the pandemic.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida noted that the plan’s failure to ensure that people with disabilities receive a decent living wage further perpetuates the long-standing discrimination that people on social assistance already face.

“No social assistance program should leave recipients living below the poverty line,” said Almeida. “People who are unable to work are entitled to the same dignity and respect as everyone else. Benefit rates that keep them in poverty only further increases the stigma against people with disabilities and prevents them from participating successfully in their communities.”

OPSEU/SEFPO Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) Chair for MCCSS, Susan Fournier, expressed concerns that the Poverty Reduction Strategy’s employment plan to move as many recipients as possible off social assistance does not take into account the lived experiences of people with disabilities and the barriers to employment that they face.

“The current Poverty Reduction Strategy is failing recipients of social assistance,” said Fournier. “No employment strategy will be successful in the long-run if people don’t have a foundation for a sustainable life, including affordable housing, child care and transportation.”

“The government claims that getting these recipients ‘job ready’ is the way out of poverty; however, without these basic foundations, the strategy is futile,” Fournier added. “The bottom line is that social assistance recipients need a living income.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; opseucommunications@opseu.org

 

Corporate taxes so low that they only need one week’s income to pay them

“The solutions are clear, easy to implement, and Canada’s corporations can easily afford to contribute their fair share. The federal government should raise the corporate income tax rate from 15% to 20%, and tax excessive pandemic profits, especially from corporations that got public subsidies.” — Dr. D. T. Cochrane, author and economist

Ottawa (13 Jan. 2022) — A new report from Canadians for Tax Fairness reveals that this year corporations in Canada made enough money by 12:33 am. on January 7 to pay all of their corporate income tax for the year 2022. For that reason, Canadians for Tax Fairness named the date Corporate Income Tax Freedom Day.

Corporate taxes far lower than taxes on individuals 

“How is it fair that the average Canadian corporation only pays a week’s worth of income towards the public services we all need, when the average Canadian contributes a couple of months’ worth of income in taxes?” said Dr. D. T. Cochrane, the report’s author and economist. “It’s especially outrageous when corporations have received hundreds of millions of dollars in support from Canadian governments.”

Corporate Income Tax Freedom Day is coming earlier and earlier in most recent years. Government tax cuts and corporate tax dodging have shifted over $1.1 trillion from federal and provincial governments to corporations over the last 2 decades, according to the report.

Corporations can afford to pay their fair share

“The solutions are clear, easy to implement, and Canada’s corporations can easily afford to contribute their fair share,” said Dr. Cochrane. “The federal government should raise the corporate income tax rate from 15% to 20%, and tax excessive pandemic profits, especially from corporations that got public subsidies.”

The report also called on the federal government to close tax loopholes, improve corporate transparency, increase investment in the CRA, and implement a minimum tax on profits recorded in foreign jurisdictions.

Canadians paid a high price for corporate tax cuts and loopholes

For years, governments have been underfunding important public services like health or long-term care. That has meant Canadians weren’t always able to get the services they needed and, as the COVID-19 pandemic made all too clear, in some cases it meant people died unnecessarily.

And it could get worse. Already, governments are trying to claim that they need to introduce austerity policies, because they are getting enough revenue to properly fund public services.

What the Canadians for Tax Fairness report reminds us of is that austerity policies aren’t necessary — if governments have the backbone to make corporations pay their fair share.

Issues and Campaigns

All Together Now!

 

Ontario Health Coalition Demands Answers from Ford Government on Long-Term Care & Hospital Crisis

January 13, 2022

Toronto — The Ontario Health Coalition issued a statement today demanding that the Ford government explain what it is going to do about the spiralling crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes and hospitals, and answer for their lack of preparedness.

“The failures at this point in the pandemic are inexcusable,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “75,000 long-term care residents have been locked down almost a month with their fundamental human rights overridden in a way that no one else in society has suffered. Staffing is crumbling entirely in some homes, yet no rapid response teams have been sent in. In other homes, staffing is extremely low, residents are sick with COVID, and on isolation in their rooms 24 hours a day, and there is no possible way for remaining staff to provide adequate care for them. When a significant number of residents are sick with COVID, and others are restricted to their rooms 24/7, they need more care not less.”

Ms. Mehra, speaking for the Coalition, issued an urgent warning.

“We are hearing devastating accounts of residents in decline from inadequate feeding, dehydration, lack of basic care. [See below for examples.] At the same time the Ford government is not even requiring basic protections to stem the spread of the virus. In the majority of cases that we hear about, long-term care operators are still not providing staff with N95 masks and requiring their use. PPE is still locked up. It is not an overstatement to call the situation a full-blown humanitarian crisis…Again.”

“In hospitals we are also seeing profound unprecedented staffing crises.”

“Here we are in the fifth wave of this pandemic. We are well beyond the point in which the Ford government should have contingency plans ready to go. The Ford government must be required to answer for their inaction and unpreparedness. They are leaving the residents to suffer, decline and yes, horribly, die in long-term care again. We cannot sit by and let this happen.”

There are approximately 75,000 residents in long-term care at this point. On December 14, a new Directive was issued that stated that residents would lose their beds if they went out of their homes for overnight visits. This de facto detention of 75,000 long-term care residents happened while the general public was allowed to gather in groups of 10,000 in sports stadiums. All visitors were barred and essential caregiver restrictions were brought in. Many residents were not only barred from going out to visit family overnight, they were put on isolation, required to stay in their rooms 24/7, eating out of Styrofoam containers, and allowed no interaction with other residents. When the virus spread out of control in the general population it made its way into long-term care again. Outbreaks have mushroomed. On December 28, a new Directive was issued forbidding all residents to go out on day trips.

In hospitals the number and size of outbreaks have also surged. On January 5 a whole range of surgeries and diagnostics were stopped across the board under a provincial Directive. That alone is a serious crisis. Since then, we have seen an array of hospitals further close services as a result of critical staffing shortages at the same time as they experience a deluge of patients.”

“The general public needs to understand the gravity of this wave of the pandemic. Omicron is not mild. Hospitalizations are increasing significantly. The health system is overwhelmed and the consequences of unfettered community spread of the virus are disproportionately borne by the elderly and health care workers. The conditions in which our province’s 75,000 long-term care residents are suffering are hair raising. They have lost fundamental freedoms, more than 4,000 of them have died of COVID alone and many more have died of neglect, depression, lack of food and water and the results of prolonged isolation,” added Ms. Mehra. “We are terrified about what is going to happen to them as their enforced isolation now reaches a month. The Ford government could do – must do — much more.”

Ontario Health Coalition Briefing Note

The Wave 5 Crisis in Hospitals and Long-Term Care

 

OPTrust Surpasses 100-000-Member Milestone

TORONTO, November 24, 2021 – OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans, has welcomed the 100,000th member to the Plan. Since inception, OPTrust’s membership has increased by more than 40 per cent from just under 70,000 in 1995. Today, OPTrust delivers retirement security to retirees in over 300 communities across Ontario and remits more than $1 billion in annual pension payments.

OPTrust has a strong belief in the value of the defined benefit pension model and delivering a secure retirement to our more than 100,000 members is both a privilege and a great responsibility,” said Peter Lindley, President and CEO of OPTrust. “Our members know they can count on exceptional service and secure, predictable retirement income, and as our membership continues to grow, we remain relentlessly focused on that mission.”

Recent growth in membership can in part be attributed to the growth of OPTrust Select, OPTrust’s defined benefit offering for organizations in Ontario’s nonprofit, charitable and broader public sectors. OPTrust Select began welcoming members in 2019 and has now enrolled 50 organizations, with roughly 1,700 members currently in the Plan.

For the vast majority of OPTrust Select members, this is the first time they have had access to the stability and security of a defined benefit pension,” said Audrey Forbes, OPTrust’s Senior Vice President, Member Experience. “The fact that OPTrust Select has continued to grow so significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic speaks to the desire for that security, and we look forward to our overall membership continuing to grow in the years and decades to come.”

To learn more about how OPTrust Select is expanding access to retirement security in Ontario, visit optrustselect.com.

 

President’s Message: A year in Review from the OFL

This year showed us, once again, the importance of solidarity. We end 2021 almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic; a global health crisis that made startlingly clear the dire consequences of underfunding, privatization, and cuts to public services. But we also end 2021 with hope and a renewed vision for making this province better for everyone.

In 2021, amidst some of the most difficult circumstances in a generation, as a labour movement we showed up for each other. Thank you to each and every person who joined the work of the Ontario Federation of Labour in the fight for better working and living conditions for everyone in this province.

We started this year off by renewing the call to Repeal Bill 124, which continues to severely impact those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 revealed how essential PSWs, childcare workers, nurses, and educators are, these workers continue to be denied better pay and their right to free and fair collective bargaining.

We took the Premier and his government to task on their inaction that caused so much unnecessary devastation. We launched physically distanced actions and I spoke to numerous media outlets about the urgent need for paid sick days. We were so loud that Ford’s Conservatives couldn’t ignore us. In April they announced the Worker Income Protection Benefit. But we know that’s far from enough. We need permanent, employer-paid sick leave now.

We didn’t stop there. We joined online and in-person actions to demand that profit be removed from long-term care. We urged the government to take meaningful action to make classrooms safer.

Throughout this year racialized communities continued to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, women continued to bear the brunt of this pandemic, and Indigenous communities remained without access to clean water. We reached out and worked together to provide support. We launched a petition to support MPP Jill Andrew’s Motion 89 for a Provincial Intersectional Gender Equity Strategy, provided support and solidarity to 1492 Land Back Lane, and launched a digital action to support MPP Sol Mamakwa’s, Bill 286 the Inherent Right to Safe Drinking Water Act.

On the 2021 Day of Mourning, we called for a suite of workers’ protections. We compiled status updates on three reports that call for action to keep workers safe and demanded that Premier Ford commit to act on five demands that span these reports:

  • Legislate permanent paid sick days for all workers;
  • Legislate and enforce preventative training standards;
  • Provide the highest quality and amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers;
  • Vaccinate equitably and strategically, starting with frontline workers and impacted communities; and
  • Ensure all workers are covered by the workers’ compensation system.
  • Once again, Ford failed workers.

We know Ford’s failures extend beyond his government’s pandemic response. From his refusal to step-up and fix the crisis at Laurentian University, to his unprecedented use of the notwithstanding clause to silence his critics by ramming through Bill 307, to his government’s report on the ‘Future of Work’ that could threaten labour standards for all workers. That is why we’ve continued to update our Ford Tracker tool so Ontarians won’t forget any of it.

Time and again, Ford has hurt workers. With a provincial election on the horizon on June 2, 2022 it is critical that Ontarians don’t forget Ford’s failures – we are going to make sure of it.

Earlier this year we released our new ad, #WeWontForget to remind Ontarians that if we want to rebuild an Ontario that actually works for people, forgetting what Ford has done isn’t an option. We also launched www.DougFordDisaster.ca, including a tool for people to write to themselves about what it has been like living under Doug Ford’s leadership.

Looking ahead, we need to do better than returning to normal. Now is the time to invest in people and the services they depend on, to ensure we never have to relive this tragedy.

I know we can do it because we have the solutions. We know what we need to build a stronger, healthier, and safer Ontario: meaningful investments in public services, a commitment to decent work, and prioritizing people over profit. Most importantly, I know we have the power to win.

Together, as Ontario’s labour movement, we can reimagine this new normal, we can address the inequities that far too many people in this province face, and we can fight for safe, healthy, and just workplaces and communities for all. Will you join me?

In solidarity,

Patty Coates     President

 


 

Retirees Regional Committee elections will follow the 2022 OPSEU/SEFPO Convention. Details will be determined based on COVID restrictions in your area.

 


The federal government must pick up the pace on pharmacare

Jan 12, 2022

By January 1, 2022, Canadians were supposed to have access to a list of essential medicines that would be covered under Canada’s new pharmacare legislation. Instead, Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Health, postponed regulatory changes that would have better protected the public from excessive drug prices. It’s time to hold the Liberals to their commitment to pharmacare for all.

If the Liberal government had followed the recommendations of its Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, Canada would already be well on its way toward universal pharmacare. New legislation in line with the Canada Health Act would have been in place guaranteeing comprehensive and public pharmacare. A new Canadian Drug Agency would have been working to lower Canada’s steep prescription drug costs. Families would save on average $350 per year.

The case for pharmacare is clear. Canada is the only developed country in the world with universal health care that does not include prescription drugs. We have the third highest per-person costs for prescription drugs, trailing only the United States and Switzerland. And we pay the world’s second highest prices for generic drugs. Canada’s current patchwork system of over 100,000 private and 100 public insurance plans is inefficient, expensive, and unfair.

The government’s Advisory Council recommended strengthening patented medicines regulations to lower the price for all payers as a step toward universal public pharmacare. Despite this, the Liberal government postponed the patented medicine regulatory changes for the fourth time on December 23, 2021. Big pharma has been fighting these changes as they will lower their huge profit margins.

These delays mean people in Canada continue to struggle to afford patented medicines. Many of these people are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, 25 per cent of households could not afford prescription medication because of high costs. Up to 4 million people in Canada don’t have drug coverage.

It’s time for the Liberal government to side with Canadians, not the pharmaceutical corporations.

 

NUPGE report looks at virtual health care and privatization

Ottawa (14 Dec. 2021) — A new report from the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) looks at how the failure to make virtual health care part of the public health care system is leading to health care being privatized. Unless governments ensure that virtual health care services are part of the public system, the growth of virtual health care will lead to more of our health care system being privatized. If that is allowed to happen, instead of improving the quality of care Canadians receive, virtual health care could end up undermining it.

COVID-19 pandemic led to increased use of virtual health care

Virtual health care includes any health care services delivered by phone, video, text messaging, e-mail or remote monitoring. While virtual care has been around for some time, particularly telehealth, it was not used much. This changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the use of virtual health care is down from the levels it reached right after the pandemic started, it is still far higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Corporations providing virtual health care offering 2-tier care

In recent years, a growing number of corporations have set up virtual health care clinics where people communicate with medical practitioners via videoconference or text. Even when the services these corporations offer are covered by provincial health care plans there are issues.

The model most corporations use is a virtual “walk-in clinic,” where people usually see a different medical practitioner each time, and there is little continuity of care. Because these corporations focus on the most lucrative services, they are also in a position to poach staff from public services. This adds to the staff shortages that are an issue in many places, particularly rural communities.

But, there’s a more serious problem. At the same time that they are offering services paid for by provincial health care systems, some of the corporations running virtual clinics are providing those same services on a “fee-for-service basis” — with the promise of shorter waiting times. Because this allows people to buy their way to the front of the line — meaning that who gets treated first is based on money not need — this is supposed to be illegal. But, both the federal and provincial governments appear so fascinated by the shiny new technology associated with virtual health care that they haven’t stopped to consider how virtual health care could be implemented in a way that is compatible with the Canada Health Act.

Virtual health care should be used to strengthen the public system

Properly used, virtual health care can be used to strengthen the public system. Public control makes it possible to ensure virtual health care is used to improve access to people in communities where there are shortages of medical practitioners. It also makes it easier to address privacy and security issues and prevent abuses.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us, governments have the ability to put major programs in place quickly. What’s needed is the political will.

This article was taken from the National Union (NUPGE) website

 

Why friendships become even more important in retirement

Retirement is a time for picking up old hobbies, trying new activities and travelling the world (when there’s no pandemic to worry about). But amid all of these life changes, maintaining one key constant makes the difference: relationships with friends. Retirees, without close connections with friends and family are at greater risk of physical and social isolation, a recent Edward Jones survey notes. It cites a Statistics Canada report showing that one in four adults over the age of 65 is socially isolated, with too little contact and interaction with others. The pandemic has prompted more Canadians to pause and think about what matters most to them in life, the Edward Jones report says, and relationships with friends and family are at the top of the list.

Seniors are more selective

Retirement is “a sacred time for friendship” – and was long before the pandemic came along, says psychologist and friendship expert Marisa Franco. Not only is there more time to spend with other people, but friendships tend to be more fulfilling during a person’s retirement years. Dr. Franco says that’s because seniors are often more selective about what friendships they invest in, not wanting to waste time on less meaningful connections. However, that doesn’t mean making new friends or keeping up with existing ones gets easier as you age. It may even be more difficult, especially for those who may have relied on the workplace to sustain their relationships.

Part of a healthy transition to retirement involves time “to regenerate that community that they might have lost from their workplace,” she says. It requires putting yourself out there, just as you might if you were dating. But, it’s not as simple as joining a club and expecting friendships to flourish automatically. Dr. Franco says people need to muster the energy and courage to talk to new people. They may need to try to make plans with them outside of the club environment, which can be especially challenging for introverts. Dr. Franco says seniors need to trust that they will find others with common interests to become friends with. “For people that are lonely later in life, you have to maintain optimism that there are people that want to meet you,” she says. And once those connections are established, they need to be nurtured just like any other relationship, Dr. Franco adds.

Making a connection

Monique Guillemette, 65, learned the importance of friendship from her father, who always made time to check on the people he cared about – a habit she has since adopted. ”For me, I think it’s to make sure everybody has someone that they can connect with. Somebody that they feel that they’re important [to],” she says. It’s a philosophy Ms. Guillemette has maintained over the years while living in different small towns in Ontario, where she says friends became “like family.” She and her husband continue to work hard at building connections with people in their community near Peterborough, Ont., partly because the rest of her family lives further away in Toronto and Ottawa. She values having a support network nearby. For Ms. Guillemette, the key to maintaining friendships is “not to be selfish.” “It might feel like it’s a one-way street. Sometimes I feel how come it’s always me connecting with somebody,” she says. But then she’ll notice all the people in her life who care about her and realize, “the more I give, the more I get back.”

Nurturing friendships

Caring and connecting with others is the foundation for any good friendship, says Patty Tseng, 68, of Vancouver. She and her husband, Jack Tseng, 68, try to stay in touch with their friends and find that their Christian religion helps bind their community. “We will send our love to them,” says Mr. Tseng, who often uses church events as a way to stay in touch with people and strengthen friendships. Ms. Franco believes that finding and nurturing friendships is important for everyone’s well-being in retirement. ”You can’t live a happy life without connection, because connection is the number one thing that makes us happy,” she says.

This article was written by Josie Kao for the Globe and Mail and was supplied to Autumn View by Leony deGraaf Hastings Financial Advisor of deGraaf Financial Strategies 905 632-9900, www.dgfs.ca

 

2021 tax season primer: Our roundup of the best tax tips for Canadians

Doing your taxes can be a bit like building IKEA furniture. There are lots of different pieces, the instructions aren’t always clear, and it often feels like it could be easier just to call in the hired pros. That’s why we rounded up our favourite expert tax advice. Whether you’re going full DIY on your income tax return or engaging a professional, these tips should help you make sense of the rules so you can keep your tax bill (and frustration) to a minimum. Here are 15 of our best tax tips for Canadians (in no particular order).

Claims for COVID-related work expenses 

Did you work from home because of COVID-19? If so, there’s now a no-fuss way to claim a deduction for home office expenses. “In 2020, eligible employees who worked remotely could deduct up to $400 in home expenses from their taxable income, without the need to keep receipts or get a signed T2200 form from their employer. The government has promised to extend the simplified deduction through the 2022 tax year, and to increase the allowable amount to $500.”

When to claim a tax deduction on interest payments

You may be able to claim a deduction for the interest paid on money you’ve borrowed for investment purposes, such as a mortgage on a rental property or a loan to purchase investments in non-registered accounts. Even then, however, there are restrictions:“According to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), ‘most interest you pay on money you borrow for investment purposes [can be deducted] but generally only if you use it to try to earn investment income. …

 If the only earnings your investment can produce are capital gains, you cannot claim the interest you paid.’ … An example of when interest may not be tax deductible is when you buy land that does not produce rental income and can only produce capital gains. Buying a stock that has no history of paying dividends (or the class of shares does not allow dividends) is another potential example.

Self-employed: How much to set aside for personal income tax

It’s normal for an employer to remove income tax from your pay cheque. If you’re self-employed however, that responsibility is yours. “As a general rule, you should always set aside 25% of your income for taxes. You’re taxed only on your net income which is your total income minus all your expenses. Look for line 104 on your tax return where it says employment income not on a T4 slip.’ This is where you report your business income.”

Incorporated business owners: How should you pay yourself?

A salary may be better than dividend income when it comes to tax deductions for child care expenses and RRSP contributions. But as a business owner, you’ll also have to pay CPP contributions on that salary as both the employer and employee. “Generally speaking, paying a salary is preferable to dividends in most provinces. Paying salary may, for example, allow a business owner to deduct child care expenses. Dividend income is not considered earned income when it comes to child care expense deductibility. Salary is considered earned income for Registered Retirement Savings Plan purposes and generates RRSP room. Dividend income is not. Paying a salary allows a business owner to contribute to Canada Pension Plan (CPP). However, they must contribute both the employee and employer portion. This reduces the “return” on paying into CPP to earn a future retirement pension.”

The best investment for your taxes

Should you put your money in a tax-free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)? The question may be simple, but the answer is not—and can vary greatly depending on your financial situation and goals. “With a TFSA, you pay tax on money you’ve earned before you make a contribution; and with an RRSP you get a tax refund now on money you contribute, but will have to pay tax later, on money you withdraw from the plan. This difference, along with your income, your investment timeline, and other factors will all contribute to making the right decision for your investment dollars. You may find that you can use both vehicles simultaneously.”

Dividing investment assets because of a divorce

Ending a marriage can be a costly endeavour for both parties involved. But at least they can avoid paying extra taxes when they divide their investments. “Normally, when assets are transferred between spouses, a capital gain resulting from a subsequent sale would be attributed back to the original spouse on sale. This is called spousal attribution. Attribution does not apply if the asset was transferred as a result of a separation or divorce, whether you are common-law or legally married.”

Plan ahead for tax changes if you expect to retire abroad 

If you’re going to spend your post-work years outside of Canada, be aware that you may face some tax implications. “If you sell or rent out your home in Canada … you will likely become a non-resident of Canada. There may be tax implications for assets you own when you leave. Assets like non-registered investments will be subject to a deemed disposition (sale) and this may trigger capital gains tax. Other assets, like pensions and investments, will be subject to withholding tax after you leave. “

Stop paying for CPP if you’re retired and still working

If you’re collecting Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits and continue to work because you want the income or simply enjoy it, you may be able to opt out of paying CPP contributions. “You can start CPP as early as age 60; if you’re still working at that point, you need to keep contributing to CPP. If you’re 65 or older, and plan to continue working, you can choose not to contribute to CPP by completing Form CPT30 Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election.”

 Don’t claim child support payments

Parents who pay child support can’t claim a tax deduction for those payments. However, the person receiving support gets that money tax free. “Child support payments cannot be deducted on the tax return of the person paying them. This is the case for all agreements or court orders negotiated after May 1997. The good news for the recipient, however, is that child support is not taxable (in other words, the parent who receives child support does not have to pay tax on that money). Further, any support payments stipulated in an agreement or court order are deemed to be child support if they are not specifically identified as spousal support.”  

Set a game plan for your U.S. investments 

Whether it’s stocks, real estate or other assets, markets south of the border have always been a draw for Canadian investors. But you need to be aware of the tax implications when investing in the U.S. “A Canadian is generally subject to 15% withholding tax on the gross proceeds of U.S. real estate, unless they file for a withholding certificate prior to closing to reduce the tax based on the estimated capital gain. U.S. capital gains tax paid is eligible to claim in Canada as a foreign tax credit. If a Canadian taxpayer has more than $100,000 in foreign assets, including U.S. stocks, ETFs, rental real estate, or other investments, they need to file the T1135 Foreign Income Verification Statement form with their Canadian tax return. The $100,000 limit relates to the cost, in Canadian dollars, for the investments.”

 This article came from the publication Money Sense and was supplied to Autumn View by Leony deGraaf Hastings, Financial Advisor of deGraaf Financial Strategies 905 632-99000, www.dgfs

 

Jeannie Eberle
Biography

Sister Jeannie started her activism as a member of Local 468 with the Ministry of Health Long Term Care in March of 1982 and stayed there until she retired in February of 2012. She was an active and integral member of Region 4 never missing a chance to participate in a protest or Labour activity. Her labour resume is truly one to she can take pride in.

She held the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer in local 468. She represented her unit on the MERC as MOHLTC REP with Cindy Falcao for EHS. She was instrumental in the Pilot Project to address a backlog of grievances that spanned 5 ministries in the MOH. Surviving 2 OPS Strikes she told me she hasn’t been fingerprinted since 1996 and something about the Quinte Jail.

Jeannie was a force in the Kingston Labour community and sat as the Treasurer for a time. Sister Jeannie was always involved and never missed an opportunity to support her labour family in all Kingston and area events. She along with 16 other Labour Councils participated in an exchange with Cuban labour folks to discuss governance, education and their Health Care System.

Sister Eberle was a solid political activist volunteering for the NDP in both Federal and Provincial election, she was the NDP riding Association Treasurer during her time as well. She enjoyed leafleting, putting up signs and contacting the electorate to inform them of the progressive ideas the NDP was bringing to the Kingston area.

Jeannie was Secretary/Treasurer of the Kingston OPSEU Area Council which she also chaired for 2 terms. In this position she attended many council meetings and kept her members informed of the comings and goings in the area.

Jeannie never missed an opportunity to stand in Solidarity with her OPSEU Family and Labour Community and was always a face you could count on whether it be in Kingston or elsewhere in the province. I first got to know Jeannie during Region 4 educationals, which she never missed and at the G20 Rally in Toronto where we walked in Solidarity against the NEO-liberal agenda of the day.

Jeanie was the Region 4 Retired Member Division Chair until 2017 when she moved to British Columbia to be closer to her grandchildren.
Something the author learned just recently was Sister Jeannie was a bit of a rebel in her younger days as well and attended Woodstock in 1969.
We miss you Jeannie and wish you all the best in health, happiness, and solidarity. You will always have a home in Region 4 Sister. Be Well.

John Hansen – Region 4

 

In Memoriam

Name OPSEU Region Date
Arline Aho Region 7 January 4, 2022
Dr. Olabinji (Banji) Akinola Region 6 January 10, 2022
Herbert (Herb) Bedford Region 3 November 16, 2021
Colleen “Joy” Delayer Region 6 January 11, 2022
George Hautanen Region 6 January 3, 2022
Douglas Lloyd Region 3 January 21, 2022
Bryan Mckenna Region 7 December 9, 2021
Lawrence Sauer Region 6 November 2, 2021
Ruben Yhap Region 5 October 19, 2021

 

If your friend or co-worker who was an OPSEU/SEFPO Retiree was missed or has passed away since this publication, please contact the Retirees Division Chair for your Region (see pages 2-3) or Sandra Snider at 13sasnider@gmail.com so that they can be included in the next edition.

For a copy of the Retired Members Division Application Form and/or the Retired Members Division Information Change Form, contact the Equity Unit at equity@opseu.org.

Related News