Engaging MPs in meaningful ways

October 19, 2023
Colchester-East Hants branch president Mike Devine, right, met with Cumberland-Colchester MP Stephen Ellis.
Colchester-East Hants branch president Mike Devine, right, met with Cumberland-Colchester MP Stephen Ellis when he was in Gatineau, Que., for the annual meeting of members.

When it comes to federal advocacy, members across the country have been busy drawing the attention of MPs to Federal Retirees‘ issues and priorities.

Avalon-Burin Peninsula branch invites MPs to AGM

Branch volunteers invited their members of Parliament to their annual general meeting (AGM) in January, as part of the branch‘s advocacy work and to benefit members and prospective members.

MP Ken McDonald attended the meeting. MPs Joanne Thompson and Churence Rogers sent regrets due to scheduling conflicts, but said they look forward to attending a future meeting.

During this meeting, Joanne Morrissey, branch director and branch advocacy liaison, led a discussion on Federal Retirees‘ advocacy priorities, including government actions to address these issues and where there is work to be done.

“We‘re always trying to increase the number of members who attend branch meetings, especially since COVID, when people started staying home,” Morrissey says. “Having an MP attend as a guest speaker is a great way to draw more members to meetings and recruit new members. With MP McDonald in attendance, we did see an increase in [attendance.] This was a great opportunity for our members and our MP to learn more about Federal Retirees‘ priorities, and for our members to hear from their MP.”

When asked why advocacy is important to her as a Federal Retirees member, Morrissey answered: “MPs need to hear our voices and understand that all Canadians deserve to live out their retirement in dignity, and the government needs to address the issues that affect older adults.”

Interested in inviting your MP to attend a branch meeting or other branch event? Email advocacyteam@ federalretirees.ca for help getting started.

Windsor and Area branch hosts MP

The Windsor & Area branch is focused on advocacy to raise awareness of the issues affected federal retirees, older adults and their loved ones.

As part of this important work, branch president Daniel Hébert invited Irek Kusmierczyk, MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, to attend the AGM in April to involve members in advocacy by providing them an opportunity to meet their MP.

Members asked Kusmierczyk questions about Federal Retirees‘ priorities using the Questions to ask your MP advocacy guide. This handy document was created at the request of Sharon McGovern, advocacy program officer (APO) for Western Ontario, in preparation for this meeting, to provide a starting point for members to begin discussions with their MP.

“A lot of people don‘t know what to ask, so this set of questions on the priorities can help,” McGovern says.

During the meeting, members asked Kusmierczyk questions on health care, long-term care, a national seniors strategy and pensions.

The Questions to ask your MP document is available to all members and is useful when speaking with local MPs. This document can be easily viewed online, or printed, and includes questions to ask on all four Federal Retiree priorities — retirement security, a national seniors strategy, veteran well-being and pharmacare.

Want your own copy of Questions to ask your MP? Email advocacyteam@ federalretirees.ca.

Saskatoon volunteers hold MP meetings

Saskatoon branch acting president Christine Haynes and advocacy officer Shawna Murphy, along with Saskatchewan advocacy program officer Richard Simpson, met with MPs Corey Tochor and Kelly Block at their constituency offices in May.

Both meetings featured an overview of Federal Retirees‘ advocacy priorities, with a deeper focus on the topic of long-term care, including both institutional care and home supports as part of a continuum of care.

Wondering which MPs are in your branch‘s area? Ask your branch, or email advocacyteam@federalretirees.ca to find out.

Nova Scotia volunteers meet with MPs on the Hill

While in Gatineau, Que., for the Federal Retirees‘ annual meeting of members (AMM), Cape Breton branch president James Wheelhouse, Nova Scotia advocacy program officer Michelle Langille and Colchester-East Hants branch president Mike Devine took the opportunity to meet with MPs on Parliament Hill.

“Michelle and I had a productive meeting with MP Mike Kelloway. We accomplished our goal of obtaining a commitment from the MP to reject legislation that would enable employers to walk away from their pension commitments. In addition, he committed to speaking with the key cabinet ministers regarding income security and a seniors strategy,” Wheelhouse reports.

Interested in meeting your MP on Parliament Hill or locally? Email advocacyteam@federalretirees.ca for tools, such as key messages and questions to ask.

Nanaimo and Area Branch wins award

The Nanaimo branch has worked hard to establish good relationships with its area MPs. Thanks to the branch‘s ongoing advocacy work, branch past-president Bob Willis and advocacy liaison Marg Smith attended a seniors‘ health-care roundtable in Qualicum Beach hosted by MP Gord Johns and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Willis and Smith were two of just 10 community leaders invited to attend the roundtable.

Provincial advocacy

PEI branches hold townhalls for snap election

On March 6, Prince Edward Island called an election for April 3. And under the leadership of PEI advocacy program officer Anne MacEwen, branches rallied to pull off two successful events despite a very tight timeframe.

The Summerside branch hosted a townhall meeting that was very well attended, with Federal Retirees members and members of the public taking part.

Questions continued to flow after the formal question period, and several participants, together with all the candidates, remained at the event to continue their discussions.

The Charlottetown branch townhall was also well attended. And quite a few people — and all the candidates — stayed for nearly an hour after the event.

As a bonus, four members who attended this event asked about becoming volunteers themselves and joining the branch board.

Following the events, candidates thanked Federal Retirees for holding the townhalls and stated how much they appreciated the opportunity to speak with members.

Alberta branches hold candidates‘ forums

The Southern Alberta branch covers two provincial ridings. And so, for the Alberta election, it held one candidates‘ forum in April and a second in May, to help members hear from local candidates before voting.

Lethbridge-East candidates attended the first forum to share their party‘s position and answer questions related to Federal Retirees‘ priorities and issues seniors face Lethbridge-West candidates attended the second forum.

Both events were held at the Nord- Bridge Seniors Centre and recorded by Shaw Media. These recordings were shared on the Federal Retirees website for all Alberta members to watch.


This article appeared in the fall 2023 issue of our in-house magazine, Sage. While you’re here, why not download the full issue and peruse our back issues too?