Monday, March 5, 2012

Voter Forum: Retirees retire for a reason... Let's keep it that way!

In the Voter Forum, Letisha wrote:
I read somewhere on this member forum about retired teachers automatically being eligible to get hired as a supply teacher in many of the boards across Ontario.  I loved the suggestion that one member provided about having them complete the exact same process that is expected from new teachers.
I think a good solution to this retiree problem would be also to revisit the elimination of the mandatory retirement age that happened sometime around 2008.  Lots of these retirees/ double dippers are well past the age of 65 taking up the place of a new grad who needs a job.  They need to keep in mind that they retired for a reason! 

Here's my response:

I also addressed this under the voter forum question "Occasional Teachers" which you can also read (easier) here.

For those of us that are underemployed or unemployed, retired teachers taking work (especially LTOs!) is a problem.  It's also a problem for the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, as these people are preventing a worker from contributing to the plan.  When there are funding shortfalls and only 1.5 workers per retiree, we need to ensure that every day worked contributes to the pension plan.  Making current workers make higher and higher contributions, or accept pension benefits less than what current retirees get, is not the solution.

We also need to recognize that authority for determining how much retired teachers can teach is held jointly by the Ontario government and the Ontario Teachers Federation.  The College has no control over whether retirees are in schools, nor how many days they can teach (currently 50).

We also must recognize that not all retirees are receiving the "typical" $40,000/year pension reported by OTPP.  Many took commuted pensions (lump sums) and have seen them decimated by financial markets.  Many retirees also were underemployed for many years of their careers, or took years off to raise children, so their pensions may not be as large as you might assume.  Indeed, I've been an occasional teacher for nine years so far... if I continue my career as an occasional teacher, my pension will likely end up in the range of about $10,000 (in today's dollars).  I'll be a retired teacher who still teaches because I'll need the money.  It certainly won't be because I won't have better things to do with my time... that's what hobbies, reading, etc. are for!

While it would vary from board to board, if it's not automatic, it's certainly easy for a retiree to get onto an occasional list.  The solution is capped lists (bargained by your union) which force school boards to properly manage their occasional teacher resources.  If they can only have so many people on their occasional list, they'll make certain that they hire people who want to work, and who don't have limitations on how much they can work.

The mandatory retirement age was struck down because discrimination based on age is prohibited under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

I completely sympathize, though; as much as I understand the individual variability of retirees, it's hard to see retirees in schools and not be bitter that they're taking work when I'm struggling to make the mortgage payments.  An issue to address (again, a union responsibility) is the allocation of work; retirees shouldn't be getting the first call just because they know the right people.  Work should be distributed in a fair and equitable manner, without any favouritism.

Mark Carter, OCT
Southcentral Region Part-time/Full-time Candidate