May 15, 2014
By Robert Green,
Thus far in this series I have outlined two of the reasons I am once again running for the position of MTA president. In the first post I outlined my belief that the MTA needs to change its institutional culture to be more open to participation by the membership and less partisan. The second post explains why I believe the MTA needs to be more respectful of its own rules; particularly those rules associated with financial transparency.
Another reason I am running is to push for badly needed changes to our health and dental insurance. The mere mention of our insurance elicits enormous frustration from the teachers at my school. There is a widespread perception that this plan does not provide good value. The vast majority of teachers with the ability to register on their partner’s insurance plan all seem to do so.
Unfortunately neither the leadership of the MTA nor QPAT seem at all interested in working to make improvements to our insurance. While I believe that a thorough investigation into the problems with these plans needs to be done, there are two things that could be done immediately to improve these plans. The first is to actually consult the members on the cost and composition of the plan.
Our union leadership loves to tell us that these are our plans and that we have complete control over them. Yet since these plans have been established the members have never been formally consulted on their cost and composition. Perhaps members would be willing to remove the coverage of certain items in order to reduce fees? Or perhaps the members would be willing to pay more for additional coverage? Or perhaps the members would like to replace the coverage of certain items for improved coverage on others? The point is there is no way of knowing any of this as long as we have a union leadership that is unwilling to put in the work to consult the members. How are we ever to improve the members’ satisfaction with these plans if we never ask them what they think? What good is membership control if the members are never given an opportunity to exercise that control?
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March 14, 2012
By Robert Green
Mention ‘health insurance’ to any group of teachers within Quebec’s English school system and one is likely to hear complaints. There seems to be a widespread perception that this is an expensive plan for the coverage received. Some who have investigated the cost and coverage of individual health insurance plans offered by various companies have even claimed that they would be better off with such a plan rather than remaining with the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers’ (QPAT’s) group insurance.
For these reasons, whenever the subject of health insurance has come up at the Montreal Teachers Association (MTA) reps assembly, a heated discussion has usually followed as reps attempt to express some of the frustration they hear from their members. Some of this frustration has been directed at Industrial Alliance and at the consulting company Mercer that recommends the use of Industrial Alliance to QPAT. Attempts by the MTA executive and professional staff to explain the role of these two organizations and the technical side of how the plan works seem to have been lost in the din of members expressing their frustrations about the plan.
In order to address this problem so that a more informed debate could take place, MTA Executive Assistant John Winrow invited many of those who had expressed concern about the plan to a meeting at the MTA office with a representative from QPAT.
The first thing that was explained at this meeting, that is important for the members of QPAT to understand, is that we the members of QPAT are the owners of this plan. This plan is not controlled by Industrial Alliance. We the members, through our association, QPAT, have determined what the coverage will be and how much it will cost. The role of Industrial Alliance is merely to administer the plan that we have created. Mercer, which was presented as one of the most knowledgeable and reputable insurance consultants in the province, is hired to ensure that the fees Industrial Alliance charges for this service are competitive.
The fact that this plan is owned and controlled by our own provincial association should mean that this is a plan that most teachers feel good about. As the meeting progressed several pieces of information came to light which could help explain why this is not the case.
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