Behind the A’s with ARTA
ATRF, ASEBP, ATA, ARTA—that’s a lot of A’s! Although, each of these organizations’ mandates revolves around supporting Alberta teachers, each provides distinctly separate services. It can be difficult to keep all the A’s straight, especially if you’re a newly retired teacher.
That’s why we will be featuring profiles of all the A’s in our upcoming newsletters, so that you can understand what each of these independent ‘A’ organizations do to serve Alberta teachers, and how to best engage with each of us. We are kicking off this series of profiles with the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA).
About the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association
“I’ve always considered retirement to be one of life’s grand adventures, full of promise and possibility,” says Lorna McIllroy, Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA)President and 17-year member. “But roadblocks can pop up that keep people from taking full advantage of their retirement—things like health concerns, or difficulty understanding their finances after they retire. ARTA helps to ease many of those burdens through health coverage and retirement resources, giving members peace of mind and allowing them to get on with their adventure!”
ARTA was established in 1963 by retired teachers for retired teachers. In 2008, public sector organizations approached ARTA about offering a retiree benefit plan to their employees. Saying yes to expanding the membership allowed ARTA to grow the plan and ensure affordability and sustainability for all members. So, non-teachers like medical professionals, accountants, and other government employees are eligible to join ARTA as a member, however, participation on ARTA’s Board of Directors and committees is limited to teachers.
ARTA’s mandate has expanded since 1963, now focusing on promoting and supporting a healthy and engaged lifestyle in retirement, with the exclusion of pensions. ARTA is not involved in administering or supporting teachers regarding their pensions; this is the responsibility of the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF).
ATRA accomplishes their mission in a myriad of ways including offering health and dental insurance plan options, providing wellness information and activities, offering post-secondary scholarships for family members, hosting social activities, and advocating on behalf of members about issues affecting retirees and educators.
“ARTA listens to its members, both when they’re happy, and when they’re upset. We’re all retirees here, and we understand the challenges that our members face,” Lorna McIllroy says.
Over the years, ARTA’s leadership came to the realization there is no one-size-fits-all view of retirement. Everyone’s goals and dream lifestyles are different, and that’s where ARTA shines. If you’re a retired teacher that dreams of traveling the world, ARTA offers extended travel coverage with no age limits, pre-existing conditions, or stability clauses. If you’d rather stick close to home, there are other services that might be of interest such as home delivery of medication, activities at regional branches, and of course general health coverage.
ARTA now administers the Retiree Benefits Plans for its 27,000 members. Benefits coverage extends to family members, which equates to 40,000 lives in total. ASEBP began offering additional benefit plan options in 2021, giving retired teachers 10 different benefit plan choices with ARTA.
“ARTA has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years,” says Daniel Mulloy, ARTA CEO. “We’ve taken on self-administration of our benefit plans, we’ve moved to a new building, and more than doubled our staff. The truth is, we’re just getting started. As Alberta’s population gets older, there are more retirees in need of our services than ever before. We plan to meet them where they are, listen to what they need, and expand our services to ensure that all members can live an engaged and active lifestyle in retirement.”
As if all that growth wasn’t enough, this year ARTA is launching ARTARx, Canada’s first plan-owned pharmacy, which allows members to easily manage their health and wellness at an affordable price point.
ARTA and ATRF
Although ARTA provides a number of services to retired teachers, ATRF is the organization that is responsible for members’ pensions. We support members with their pension at all stages of their careers and, of course, we continue to assist members after they retire. Typically, retired members are interested in topics like Pension Information Statements, tax slips, cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA), pension deposit payment dates,returning to teaching while retired, and many others.
Sharing Personal Information
It’s important to note that while ARTA and ATRF work together often, under privacy laws we cannot share or disclose personal member information outside the organization. So, if for instance, you are applying for your pension with ATRF and health benefits with ARTA, you would need to contact the relevant organization to submit two separate applications. This also applies if you have a change in your personal circumstance, such as a change of contact information or family status – you need to contact both organizations to make these updates. This protects your personal information and privacy. However, we are always looking for ways to partner with our sister organizations to make things easier for our retired members. So, please continue to reach out to us if you have any feedback, or if you need clarification on what services ATRF or ARTA provides.
“ATRF and ARTA are united in their mandates to serve the interests of retired teachers,” says Daniel Mulloy. “We regularly collaborate on issues that affect both active and retired teachers alike. We look forward to continuing to find ways to support and grow together for the betterment of all educators.”