On QPAT’s Perks and Pension Plans: An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

By Jim Wilson,

QPAT’s Provincial Council provides you with the opportunity to address issues, some of which I raised in an earlier open letter. I was pleased to see the Liaison provided an updated history of QPAT/PAPT. Why are the English Catholic teachers [PACT] completely omitted from the QPAT story?

Maybe it is an opportunity for you to explain Lombard’s pension deals.  What job was he supposedly offered, that in order to retain him, QPAT were, paradoxically, “obliged” to allow him to ‘retire’, so he could collect both his salary and pension, and give him an additional RRSP ‘sweetener’. However, the mystery deepens when Lombard, whilst on leave of absence as a teacher, and working for PAPT/QPAT, managed to change his teacher pension plan to the administrators’ plan. I do not recall this ever been on any union agenda, it must have been an oversight by a president!!! CARRA regulations have changed, preventing administrators from double–dipping, doesn’t QPAT and Lombard need to follow the CARRA rules too?

It was appropriate in the ‘Liaison’ that the late Don Peacock receive a mention for his union work. Unfortunately for him, unlike his successor, his pension was never linked to his Presidential salary. When he was MTA president, he told me that he had requested that option. However, according to CARRA regulations, it appears the request required the agreement of either one of the MTA professional staff. It seems that neither Winrow nor Rosenfield acceded to his wish. Whatever the issues were, Rosenfield would appear to enjoy that advantage once she became President. I am sure she can justify her actions, and that could be part of her farewell speech to the delegates.

On another point, Bill 14 could affect the job security of some of your members, why did not QPAT make a statement? I am sure that PAPT/QPAT supported freedom of choice in education; maybe you have the policy, but are just afraid to publicize it. The P.C. is the time and place for that debate.  Check the past records, and tell your members just what you have discovered. The ‘language’  subject can frighten some union leaders; I recall  one female President demanding  that the comedy duo, Bowser and Blue, leave the stage at a union rally, for their routine, according to her, would upset the French teachers. Surely everybody, no matter their linguistic background, enjoys laughing at the government.

Your Liaison message provided an interesting, professional view on teacher autonomy; an article in the Gazette, [April 26th] written by a QPAT member hit the same theme. I note you will be conducting research on professional autonomy— good, but why not ask your members other questions.  Do they agree, or even have an inkling, that they pay QPAT $300,000 p.a. [camouflaged as revenue] to “administer” the health plan, when the real cost is a fraction of that?  Ask if they agree with the salary and fringe benefits of the QPAT staff—make it transparent, for how many teachers are accountants, able to decipher your arcane budget statements?  Do they believe they are receiving value for their union dues?  Maybe a survey of these topics might reveal some discomforting answers.

Jim Wilson is a former President of Pearson Teacher’s Union

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