REPORT OF VICE-PRESIDENT STEVE HINDLE
Presented to the 101st Annual General Meeting
The time between the 2019 Annual General Meeting and the 2020 Annual General Meeting will span thirteen real months but it feels like thirteen virtual years as we make extreme adjustments due to the pandemic and its fallout.
Little can be referred to as normal as the Institute dealt with the necessity of continuing to represent members dealing with the usual workplace issues, such as a broken pay system called Phoenix, while having to do it in a way which kept people safe and did not contribute to spreading the novel coronavirus. In-person meetings moved onto virtual platforms and working from home became the standard for many members and the Institute’s staff.
Meanwhile, on February 6, 2020, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Professional Institute. That day’s celebration started with our staff coming together, virtually, in all of the Regional Offices and the National Office in what was a bit of foreshadowing for meetings during the rest of the year. Each of the offices then had events with members in their local area. The Institute received congratulatory notes from the Governor-General, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and many union leaders other dignitaries from around the country.
Unfortunately, mid-March arrived and brought with it many necessary restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings and many of our constituent bodies had to cancel or postpone their own 100th anniversary themed events. Our 100th Anniversary Committee, headed by Lucienne Bahuaud, is hopeful that most of these events, especially our tree planting initiative, can be held during 2021.
I’m happy to report that we did manage to complete our 100th anniversary history project. The author, Dr. Jason Russell, finalized the manuscript towards the end of 2019, the Institute completed translation of it in early 2020, and Between The Lines, the publisher, had it in print and ready for sale and distribution early in October 2020. Many thanks go to Dr. Russell, Laureen Allan in our Communications Section, Brian Beavan, a retired member who was active in the Institute, especially with the Historical Research Group, and Bob McIntosh, a retired staff member who worked with us in many capacities including Policy Advisor to the President. They were instrumental in the production of Leading Progress, the Institute’s 100 year history, along with about fifty (50) members and staff who were interviewed for the project. I hope that many of you take the opportunity to read about how we started and the challenges we dealt with over that time.
As for more regular activities, I was involved with pension issues and helped to start an internal pension advisory committee. The purpose of this six member group, supported by our pension and benefits staff, is to provide the Institute and the President with the members’ perspective on long-standing and emerging issues such as the enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan. This committee will look beyond just superannuation (the federal public service pension plan) to consider such topics as target benefit plans and income stability in retirement (CPP/QPP, OAS, RRSPs, pensions) to ensure that the Institute has thoughtful and well supported positions on the wide range of topics that concern our members as they prepare for retirement, as well as those already enjoying that stage of life. I am now in the process of handing my pension responsibilities off to Vice-President Stephane Aubry. This is being done as my term on the Public Service Pension Advisory Committee (an Order-in Council appointment) comes to an end in December 2020.
I have also been involved with the Professional Institute Building Trust, After a difficult period of vacancies in our building due to the expiration of the major lease held by the federal government, it is gratifying to see that we now have leases in place that cover that loss. While it isn’t clear what the long term effect of the pandemic will be on what constitutes a “normal” workplace the Trust and our building are well positioned for whatever comes.
The final area of significant involvement for me has been preparations for this year’s Annual General Meeting. Without being able to host our normal in-person gathering of more than six hundred (600) members we have been extremely busy preparing for a virtual meeting of all those activists. The logistical challenge was accompanied by the need to ensure that we had proper processes and procedures in place while also fulfilling our legal obligations. I’m looking forward to helping it all unfold and then participating in the post-event evaluation so that we can makes the necessary adjustments should this be required again next year.