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Archives Chair
John Carruthers


The compilation of four features from the 2018 Grapevines:
         "Generations of Teaching" in the families of four of our members.

... and a compilation of our District 14 history
Communications chair
Bonnie Brian


Although we are call it a “committee” we are much more like a team. Each member has their own sphere of influence, but none of us can function alone to get the job done. As our membership changes in age and grows in numbers, the need for more modern technology grows. Beside the Database, Newsletter and Website, we have added Facebook to our outreach both to members and the broader community. As always we are in need of volunteers to work with us in the area of technology. We scramble to keep up.

Donna Van Nest continues in her position even though she lives out of our area and we seldom see her any more. Besides keeping up with the changes in membership, she also works with the Goodwill Committee to invite members to the 80 plus club and for all those cards marking life's milestones. Donna is responsible for the “New Members” and “In Memoriam” columns in the Grapevine, both of which most people rush to read. Since the Grapevine is increasingly being distributed via email it is vital that Donna have your correct and most current email address.

Bonnie Bryan continues to produce our quality newsletter, the Grapevine. The banner is in keeping with both the Website and Facebook. We have enjoyed an increasing number of articles about life in retirement and we welcome others to make contribution of up to 500 words. Many readers express that they look forward to the travel articles by Mike Keenan. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to contact either Bonnie or me.

John Carruthers, the webmaster, posts all changes to executive, committee reports, newsletters, events and timely news items to the web. Check the website often for updates during the intervening times between newsletters. Visit the Flashing News button and the picture gallery. If you have anything that may be of relevance to our members please send it to me and we may be able to post it on our website, “”.

The Communications Committee has its tentacles in all aspects of the organization. I am proud of the expertise and fine work produced, and the many hours spent in service to the membership by the people on the committee. If you would like to join our team or make a contribution, please contact me at or 905-646-2640.

Diane Conklin
Diane Conklin


Diane Conklin, Events Planning Chair

Margot SmithGood Will
Margot Smith

Good Will

As this strange year of 2020 with its COVID 19 pandemic draws to a close, your Goodwill Committee wants you to know that we still care what is happening with you, our members of District 14. The Area Reps have carried on with the sending of birthday cards and “thinking-of-you cards.” We have tried to respond to any requests for written communication to the members of a specific Area, when informed about someone in need of consoling, or perhaps congratulations. It all depends on you to inform the Goodwill Rep for your Area or the Liaison for Francophone members about such a need. We shall also continue to use the telephone more to make any “visits” with our more “senior” members.

It has been a tough year for any of you who reached milestone birthdays, as we could not offer you the same way to celebrate at one of our luncheons. I can tell you that the florist who usually works on the long stem roses or the boutonnieres and corsages has also been disappointed. For our centenarians, many could not even be sent the usual flower arrangements, as many places of residence were not permitting delivery. You must feel rather like those students who graduated either from Elementary or High School in 2020.

/p>I can assure you that the Goodwill Committee will be meeting (probably by Zoom) soon to discuss whether we press on with hoping everything will be safe to use our usual Grand Luncheon approach in 2021, or find alternate ways in smaller, more intimate groups to honour those members turning 80 and those who reach 90+ years. In the meantime if you are 90 and over, you can expect to receive Happy Christmas or New Year’s greetings from your Area Representative, on behalf of District 14. Once again we make these 2 earnest appeals: 1) if you do not want to receive such greetings please contact your Area Representative right away, or Margot Smith, Chair of the Committee. 2) Please ensure all your contact information is up to date by using the toll-free telephone number or the email address for the RTOERO head Office in Toronto. Both are printed in all issues of the Grapevine, or on your yearly calendars.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy 2021 and please help us to stay connected with one another.

Margot Smith, Goodwill Chair

Health ServicesHealth Services Chair
Health Services
Marilyn Malton

Health Services

In December, we all received “Communiqué”, our 2021 Health Benefits Update. It announced many improvements to our plan and premiums because of the surplus generated by the inability of many of us to take advantage of our qualifying services due to the Lockdowns and restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On the financial side of the improvements, we will receive a 3% reduction of the premiums for each of our three plans, and guaranteed subsidization of premiums for the next five years.

We will also receive improvements in five areas of our benefits:

  1. Our dental plan reimbursements will be updated to the 2021 fee guide for general practitioners.
  2. Our travel insurance now covers COVID-19 medical emergencies while travelling, even during the time of government-issued travel advisories. This change is retroactive to October 1, 2020.
  3. Our Trip Cancellation or Interruption coverage remains in place if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for any of the reasons on pages 73-76 of your Insurance Plan Booklet, including an existing medical condition that has become unstable. Please note that you are not covered for trip cancellation or interruption related to COVID-19. However, unlike other travel plans, RTOERO will continue to reimburse for cancellations and interruptions unrelated to COVID-19.
  4. Our Stability Clause (you must be medically stable for 90 days to be covered by our travel insurance) has been improved so that a reduction or discontinuation in medication due to an improvement in your condition is no longer subject to the stability clause.
  5. General Exclusion #6 for the Emergency Medical Travel Plan has been updated to clarify that you continue to be covered if you continue pro-active care for a stable condition while you are travelling.

You can always find the Updated Insurance Plan Booklet (2021) online at If you do not have internet access, you can request a printed copy by calling 1-800-361-9888. If you need more clarification about any part of the plan, call 1-800-563-3274.

membershiprpt Membership
Bill Doyle


Do you know someone who is a member of the broader education community? RTO-ERO is open to all who work in the Board Offices; in both public and private schools; and in Community Colleges and Universities. RTO-ERO District 14 Niagara invites you to join us. Members have the opportunity to participate in social and leisure activities. Join a committee or two, including political advocacy, be part of the District Executive leadership role. In addition to the District Newsletter, The Grapevine, one receives Head Office publications packed with beneficial news and information including.

Are you still working? Take advantage of Free Membership to become more aware of what awaits you when you decide to hang the “Retired” sign. As an Active Member (not retired member) you receive electronic copies of all publications, both locally and National. Being aware of the benefits of membership, you have a 'jump start' to getting involved. One needs to plan for retirement. Take advantage of participating in an RPW (Retirement Planning Workshop). I suggest the Fifteen, Ten, and Five Year Plans. The minimum you should consider is giving yourself a Five-Year window to plan your retirement. District 14 tries to hold its RPW the first Saturday in March. You can always go to to confirm the date.

In early September, (first Thursday after Labour Day) we welcome new retirees to celebrate their retirement at our annual Farewell to the Bell Luncheon. This luncheon provides attendees the opportunity to meet and be reacquainted with others from the education sector, as well as make new acquaintances. After lunch all, at a reduced rate, one has the opportunity to golf. Our luncheon and golf is held at The Niagara Whirlpool Public Golf Course.

Do you know of someone who is retiring soon? Encourage them to contact Head Office (1-800-361-9888) or website to request an RTO/ERO Registration Kit. Consider yourself an RTO/ERO ambassador!

Bill Doyle, Membership Chair

Janice Taylor
Pension Concerns
Janice Taylor

Pension Concerns

District 14 members who contacted Pension and Retirement Concerns Committee had their concerns discussed and referred to the appropriate provider.

A workshop is being planned re: wills, power of attorney/health, estates and trusts for the spring. Another presentation being considered is funeral planning.

Currently Don Gray, Kathy Smith and myself make up the Pension and Retirement Concerns Committee. New members and volunteers for this committee are welcome.

Janice Taylor, Pensions & Retirement Concerns Chair

Political Advocacy Chair
Political Advocacy
Diane Conklin
Communications chair
Chereen Osborne

Public Relations

I took on the role of public relation after Carolyn Canham was unable to continue in the position. With the assistance of the Table Officers, Bill Doyle and the Communications Committee we made many first for the organization. We are trying to profile the great job that our members and the organization do in the community.

This year we purchased new vests with our logo on the front and, in large letters on the back, “RTO/ERO District 14 Niagara, RETIRED TEACHERS of ONTARIO DISTRICT 14 NIAGARA”. We proudly sported our vests in the Labour Day Parade. Thanks to Bill Doyle for doing all the leg work on design and purchase.

With the help of Bonnie Bryan, a new card was produced with a calendar on one side but an explanation of who we are as Retired Teachers of Ontario. It explains who can be a member along with what we stand for as an organization. They were well received on the parade route. They were also handed out at Farewell to the Bell, and will be distributed at Senate, The Treasurers' Workshop, the Health Workshop, the AGM and the Retirement Planning Workshop.

We have been doing some community outreach. RTO/ERO District 14 Niagara has sponsored four lunches for the building teams at Habitat for Humanity project sites.

We have launched our Facebook page. Find us at I am currently looking for someone to help with Facebook and another person to deal with media. If you have any interest in either position, please contact me at

Chereen Osborne, PR Chair

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