From The Advocate, September 2012
Return to The Advocate September 2012 selected articles page
Together, we can be a powerful voice for retirees
Inaugural editorial by Diane Woods, President of BC FORUM
Published September, 2012 - It was thrilling to see so many members – another record turnout – attend this year’s annual general meeting of BC FORUM. The members brought great energy to the event. That’s a good thing, because we have a lot of work ahead of us, and our success depends on the support and involvement of our members.
It seems that the attacks on retired workers and our families are getting worse and worse. There’s the federal plan to raise the retirement age to pay for more corporate tax breaks. There are continuing provincial cuts in essential health services that help people to age with dignity in their own homes. We need to work together to ensure our voices are heard, and to ensure that seniors are treated with respect.
The work ahead of us is a little different from when we were active union members. We don’t have a paycheque; we’re all volunteers. On the other hand, we have skills gained through years of experience in organizing, lobbying, negotiating and campaigning. As a friend of mine has noted, we may not move quite as quickly as we used to, but we’re a lot more fuel efficient.
There is great strength in our continuing relationship with our unions. In that respect, BC FORUM is unique. We are the only B.C. organization of older and retired workers which is directly affiliated to the labour movement. Our links to the movement, and to those who are working to build a better province, are deep and lasting. They are part of our structure and purpose. We are strongest when we work together in solidarity, bringing our experience to bear for the benefit of workers both young and old.
Changes to our Board
I want to personally and publicly thank Gerry Edwards for his long and dedicated service to BC FORUM and our members. Gerry decided to step down as president due to health issues. His contribution as president, and as the Steelworkers’ representative on the BC FORUM board since 1996, has been significant. We extend our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
I’m delighted to welcome a new member to our board. Maureen Shaw has served as both Secretary Treasurer and President of the College Institute Educators Association (now known as the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators). She was the first President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and a Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. Last year, she was presented with CAUT’s Sara Shorten award in recognition of her work to advance the rights of women.
Thank you for all you do, and especially for your participation in BC FORUM. Working together, we can be powerful advocates for retired workers, workers nearing retirement, and our families. As always, our strength is in our membership. If you know someone who should be a member, please ask them to fill out the form on page 16 (available here on the website). Together, we can be a powerful voice for retirees.