Newsletter Conference Edition

Welcome to the new weblog (“blog”)  CURAC/ARUCC Newsletter/Bulletin. It has several features, thanks to the updated website software. It comes in a scaleable form, as easily read on a smart phone or tablet as a PC. Try it on your smartphone or tablet, please! We encourage member societies to send us URLs of important events and occasions, which will be posted along with announcements in the Newsletter / Bulletin and/or the CURAC website’s tab “Members’ Corner”. “Current Communications” on our home page will still be a major source of national notices. There is a feedback form at the end of the Newsletter/Bulletin.

Brief Table of Contents - individual articles may be accessed by clicking one of the short titles below.



The Carleton University Retirees Association (CURA) will host the 2017 annual conference of the College and University Retiree Associations of Canada (CURAC) on the Carleton campus in the Richcraft Building (formerly called the River Building), May 24 – May 26, 2017. This coincides with the 75th anniversary of Carleton University and the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. Approximately 100 delegates from universities and colleges across Canada are expected.

CURAC/ARUCC delegates will be welcomed to Carleton on Wednesday afternoon, May 24 from 2-4 p.m. when the Provost and Vice-President Academic of Carleton, Peter Ricketts, will host a reception for all Carleton retirees and CURAC delegates in the Richcraft Building atrium (2nd floor). This will be followed by registration and a reception for CURAC delegates in the same location. The Thursday and Friday sessions, May 25 and 26, and the Thursday evening Banquet, will also take place in the Richcraft Building. The Program will feature sessions on health, wealth (the economy), and higher education.
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The following awards will be conferred at annual CURAC/ARUCC conference banquet on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Award Citations will be posted on the website,, during the conference.

CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Awards

  • Francoise Arbuckle, Association of Retired Academics of Laurentian University.
  • Ginette Lamontagne, McGill University Retirees Association
  • John D. Mundie, University of Manitoba Retirees Association.
  • Maurice Gibbons, Simon Fraser University Retirees Association.
  • Datta Pillay, Windsor University Retirees Association

Contribution to CURAC Award

John Meyer, Windsor University Retirees Association.

CURAC Association Award

Carleton University Retirees Association

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Do you consult Dr. Google for health advice? You’re not alone. Canadians, particularly those over the age of 65, are increasingly turning to the Internet for health information. That’s why it’s more important than ever to consider the credibility of our online resources.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal is a free website developed by McMaster University that provides high-quality, evidence based information to help Canadians manage their health conditions and age well.

“There are many websites that deal with health and aging, but what sets the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal apart, is the emphasis on using the latest scientific evidence to provide credible insights on healthy aging,” says Dr. Anthony Levinson, one of the portal leads.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal leverages the University’s three world-class evidence research databases (traditionally referenced by public health professionals, clinicians and policymakers) to provide high-quality, easy-to-understand information to the public. The portal features three distinct types of content: the very popular blog posts about hot topics and prevalent seniors’ health conditions; web resource ratings, which help assess the quality of other online health articles based on a five-star rating system; and evidence summaries, which outline – in plain language – key messages from recent health research findings.

Want the latest information on arthritis, menopause or dementia treatment options? Curious what the most recent research evidence tells us about nutrition, exercise and heart disease? Looking for tips to enjoy a long and healthy retirement? The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal helps you sort through the overwhelming amount of information available online, to help you make evidence-informed health decisions and inspired lifestyle changes.

“We hope we can become the sensible go-to place,” says Dr. Levinson. “Don’t just type your health question into Google. Go to the Portal.”

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As with retirees, websites age. This aging is related to the relentless march of technology. For example, mobile smartphones and tablets have eclipsed reliance on traditional desk- or laptop computers. Internet communication speeds and memory capacities have erased former barriers to rich visual communications and browser responses. As old apps wither from misuse, new “apps” move in to fill the void. Websites that are not “refreshed” with a new look become “crusty” from stale delivery methods and from drowning in old material.

Websites remain a sine qua non for organizations such as CURAC/ARUCC and its member associations. Even the traditional email “blasts” cannot compete forever with well-designed websites. Spam filters and hackers make email communication vulnerable. Herein is the conundrum: websites, unlike Word documents, are not a simple set of paper documents. What appears simple, is not. Also, website content should have a “best before” date or at least a “best removed” date to avoid clutter.

Your current webmaster has been a few years in the job for CURAC, and has some words of wisdom to share with colleagues. He has learned the hard way to be realistic about what can be accomplished. Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect perfection, either. The websites of most retiree associations, including the CURAC/AURCC website, are run by a committee of one or two. I keep a resignation letter handy to wave in front of those who earnestly believe they can do better, and will move aside gracefully if I really believe I can be replaced competently by a colleague.

As a webmaster, one must be prepared to learn on the job. In my career, I once had a lab with several internet servers, students and assistants. I taught computer science for 35 years, had a fair to excellent knowledge of many computer languages (including markup languages such as HTML), architectures and underlying algorithms and theories around computing. But three years into retirement, I found myself a neophyte when it came to all things “website".

The CURAC/ARUCC website uses a program called WordPress. Its claim to fame comes from its history as a friendly environment for developing weblogs, or “blogs.” It comes in both “freeware” and purchasable versions. In some respects, it is simple to use. That is, it is simpler to get an attractive website than would otherwise be available without sophisticated high-level tools. A new generation of WordPress tools has been incorporated into development of the new CURAC/ARUCC website.

This website has several attractive new features. It is "scalable": from the personal computer, to tablet, and (although somewhat reduced) even to smartphone. Menus are dynamically adjustable. A menu item can be added or deleted and the hierarchy of menus can be changed by a single mouse movement. By this means, surplus items can be deleted and new ones added without extensive programming. Changing the overall look and feel is less likely to be traumatic in future. Care has been taken to use only symbolic addresses (understandable names) for individual web pages. In the “old” website, the database addresses of the web pages were not symbolic, but actual database page names. Not all of this matters to the casual website reader, of course, but it improves the likelihood of the webmaster being able to maintain the site without undue grief.

Cultural improvements will continue to be a focus of Lots of material from member associations should soon grace the pages.

All of these improvements depend on cooperation within CURAC’s National Board and Member Associations’  Communications officers, committees and webmasters. The future looks bright.

-- By David Swayne

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CURAC/ARUCC has signed two affinity agreements that provide retirees who are members of their local university or college retiree organization with access to two insurance products – one for travel and the other for supplementary health and travel. If your university/college retiree association is a member of CURAC/AURCC and you are a member of the local association, you are eligible to purchase either of the two products.

The first agreement is with Johnson Inc. for MEDOC travel insurance. This insurance product offers coverage for pre-existing medical conditions that are stable for at least 90 days. While coverage is available regardless of health status, your premium is related to health status and risk – that is, those with no health issues pay the lowest premium. Plans provide for an annual unlimited number of trips of 17 or 35 days with top-up coverage for longer trips. Coverage includes emergency medical, trip cancellation/interruption/delay/ baggage loss. You can read the details of the MEDOC program, and purchase coverage, at their website:

The second affinity agreement allows retirees to subscribe to supplementary health coverage provided by the Retired Teachers of Ontario, an organization which has broadened its reach to include retiree organizations in other provinces. The RTO plan is also administered by Johnson Inc.  The RTO plan combines an array of supplementary health coverages with emergency medical and trip cancellation coverage. Retirees who are members of a retiree association under the CURAC umbrella and currently in a group health benefits plan will be accepted as members of the RTO Plan with no medical questionnaire.

There is one small caveat: RTO is permitted to offer its plan only to members of RTO; you become a member of RTO by applying directly to RTO and paying the $56 fee.

The RTO plan will be of most interest retirees whose university-sponsored supplementary health coverage is expiring.

Those interested should, as a first step, review the RTO extended health care plan and rates available at
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