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OCRA GM 2024 That’s a Wrap!

OCRA’s 18th General Meeting at Niagara College on June 26 was a huge success. Beautiful venue, fantastic food, great speakers, fun wine tours and lots of visiting with old friends. We had registrants from nine colleges and it’s always interesting to hear what each college is up to. Big thanks to Lindsey Hendriks, Niagara’s event planner extraordinaire, who stayed onsite throughout the meeting to make sure everything ran smoothly.

I love that we had the opportunity to hear directly from our key partners. Evan Howard and Mike Dawson from CAAT Pension Plan provided an engaging talk that updated us on the state of our retirement plan. It’s comforting to note that our pension is 124% funded and that they’ve seen a 9.3% growth over the past 10 years, even given the uncertainties of the markets. Mike Vannelli and Stephen Lee Kam, our contacts at the College Employer Council (CEC), had not attended a GM for a few years but were back to give a great presentation that covered the history of the Sun Life benefits plan and to explain some recent coverage decisions. We had many questions from the floor and have sent these along for further clarification. Stay tuned for their responses. CEC will be starting a review of their current Sun Life benefits plan this fall and OCRA has been invited to participate. We look forward to this opportunity.

Yvonne Brady from belairdirect (formerly Johnson Insurance) was a hit with attendees. She provided lots of tips and tricks around comparing travel plans and making sure you have the right one for your needs. I strongly recommend that you check out the Medoc product from belairdirect. As an OCRA member, you can purchase as part of a group plan and that makes things more affordable. On a personal note, my husband and I had reason to use emergency medical this past spring when travelling to Mallorca. The service and support we received was outstanding.

Our keynote speaker was David DiPietro who handles business development for the Research and Innovation division of Niagara College. David’s engaging presentation certainly opened my eyes to the importance of applied research in the College sector to the local economy as well as to the student learning experience.

I’m also very pleased to report that we now have a full complement of members on our Board. Susan Alcorn-MacKay from Cambrian College and Stu Black from Niagara College were elected as new Board members for OCRA. Welcome aboard Susan and Stu!

Finally, thanks to the all the members of the OCRA Board, especially Yvonne Glenville, Doug Willford and Marilyn McDermott, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the GM ran smoothly.

Barb Watts
OCRA President

OCRA GM June 26, 2024

OCRA is pleased to announce that its 18th General Meeting will be held on Wednesday June 26, 2024 at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Daniel J. Patterson (DJP) Campus in the Benchmark Restaurant from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The meeting is free to OCRA members and includes the latest news from OCRA, guest speakers, lunch, and an optional wine tour/tasting at the Wine Visitor + Education Centre.

New for this year…the OCRA Board invites non-members to attend and receive one year’s free membership upon registering with the Association.

Evan Howard, CAAT Pension Plan’s Chief Pension Officer, and Michael Dawson, CAAT’s Chief Financial Officer, will present on the Plan’s 2023 performance results, strong funding position progressing to Level 6, upcoming initiatives, and innovations.

Mike Vannelli, Vice President, and Stephen Lee Kam, Human Resources Consultant, both with Benefits and Compensation at the College Employer Council, will update us on matters related to our benefits plan.

Yvonne Brady, Senior Consultant, Affinity Relationships, belairdirect (formerly Johnson Insurance) will provide us with information regarding travel insurance.

David DiPietro

Our keynote speaker is David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, Research & Innovation, Niagara College. David will provide an overview of applied research in the CAAT sector and will focus specifically on Niagara College’s award-winning initiatives to further industry collaboration and innovation. 


Full details about the meeting and how to register have been sent to OCRA members via Canada Post or email depending on the member’s specified communication preference. The deadline to register via email is Friday June 7, 2024 (Canada Post by Friday May 31, 2024). Questions may be addressed to OCRA’s Membership Co-ordinator.

OCRA Executive News 2023

Linda Choptiany Steps Down as President

On June 25, 2023, Linda Choptiany (Centennial) stepped down as President of OCRA. In 2001 Linda was one of the founding members of OCRA and since then has been an active and central member of the Executive. Linda will continue serving on the Executive as Past President.

Changes to Executive Officer Positions

Barb Watts (Georgian) has moved from the role of Vice-President to President of OCRA. Barb was a faculty member, coordinator, associate dean and acting dean in the School of Business at Georgian College. She has been the Vice-President of the Georgian College Retirees’ Club for four years and has experience working with OCASA (Ontario College Administrators Network).

Andrew Dykstra (Georgian) has returned to the Executive as Vice-President. Andrew was a faculty member and coordinator for the Accounting programs in the School of Business at Georgian College. He previously served as OCRA’s Vice-President for five years and was also President of the Georgian College Retirees Club for five years.

Marilyn McDermott (Mohawk) has moved from a director position to that of OCRA Secretary. Marilyn was a faculty librarian at Mohawk College. She is currently the Communications and Membership Director for the Retirees’ Association of Mohawk College.

After serving 17 years as OCRA Secretary, Stella Pulkinghorn (Fleming) has stepped down and taken on a director position. Stella retired from Fleming College having spent most of her 25 years as Executive Secretary to the President and Associate Secretary to the Fleming Board of Governors. The OCRA Executive extends its thanks to Stella for her outstanding service and dedication to OCRA.

Dr. Joseph Mior (Fleming) has joined the Executive and taken over the position of Communications Officer from Barbara Mathers, who will continue to serve as OCRA’s Webmaster. Joe was a faculty member in the School of General Arts and Sciences for over 30 years. He was also an Adjunct Professor at O.I.S.E. (U of T) and Central Michigan University.

New Executive Directors

Rick Williams (Loyalist) was the co-ordinator of the Early Childhood Education program and taught part-time in the Applied degree program. Rick also served as Director/Commissioner in the Social Services field and as President of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association. Currently, Rick is the Chair of the Loyalist College Pioneers Association.

Doug Greenwood (Sheridan) taught ethics and entrepreneurship at Sheridan in the Pilon School of Business. Doug was also the coordinator of the Marketing diploma program and the post-grad Marketing Management program.

OCRA GM 2023 – Thanks to All

The success of OCRA’s 17th General Meeting, held on June 21 2023 at Fleming College, was thanks to many people.

Thanks to Fleming College for hosting our event, especially Adele Russell, Senior Development Officer Advancement and Alumni Relations and Matt Markovic, Manager College Services for their support in the planning of the event and also to Drew Van Parys, Vice-President Corporate Services for welcoming our attendees.

Thanks too to our speakers, Kevin Rorwick, Chief Operating Officer CAAT Pension Plan for sharing good news about the pension plan and hinting at exciting new developments and Cindy Plunkett, Senior Director of Learning and Development at PointClickCare for providing lively and engaging information about being safe in the online world.

Finally, thanks to the all the members of the OCRA Executive, especially Stella Pulkinghorn, Yvonne Glenville and Barb Watts who worked tirelessly to ensure that the GM ran smoothly.

Linda Choptiany
OCRA President

CAAT Plan Ambassadors Program

The CAAT Plan recently launched the CAAT Plan Ambassadors Program. Here’s what this program is all about:

CAAT Plan Ambassador Logo

One of the great features of a defined benefit (DB) pension, like the one you have with CAAT, is knowing that you have a monthly pension income for life, regardless of what is happening in the investment markets.  

A DB pension is one of the most effective and least stressful ways for Canadians to efficiently save for their retirement. Unfortunately, only about 40% of Canadians currently have a workplace DB pension. And many members, including retired members like you, have shared concerns that their children and grandchildren will not have access to a workplace DB pension.  

We want to help change that.  

Pension Security for Canadians  

In September 2022, CAAT launched the Plan Ambassador program with one goal: spreading awareness that every Canadian deserves a good pension, and that CAAT has a solution as the only DB pension plan open to all sectors in Canada. 

Joining as a Plan Ambassador guarantees information and resources sent directly to your inbox about the importance of DB pensions for Canadians, their family, and communities. You’ll also get the latest in economic research, learn about broader Canadian retirement trends, and enjoy messages from CAAT’s CEO. 

Join Plan Ambassadors 

You know how vital it is to have a secure  retirement. Join today as a Plan Ambassador and help us improve retirement security for more Canadians. 

Join here to become a Plan Ambassador


If you have any questions about the program, e-mail CAAT at .  

OCRA GM June 21, 2023

OCRA is pleased to announce that its 17th General Meeting will be held on Wednesday June 21, 2023 at Fleming College in Peterborough from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The meeting is free to OCRA members and includes the latest news from OCRA, guest speakers, lunch, and an optional tour of the Fleming Sutherland Campus after the meeting adjourns.

Kevin Rorwick, Chief Operating Officer of the CAAT Pension Plan will talk about pension matters in his presentation “Better Pensions for Everyone”.

Our keynote speaker is Cindy Plunkett, Senior Director of Learning and Development at PointClickCare, Executive Director of the Canadian Learning Conference, and part-time professor at Ontario Tech University. Cindy is an expert in learning design and development with a PhD in educational technologies. Her presentation will be about our digital shadows and how to protect ourselves in the online environment.

Full details about the meeting and how to register has been sent to OCRA members via Canada Post or email depending on the member’s specified communication preference. The deadline to register via email is Friday June 2, 2023 (Canada Post by Friday May 26, 2023). Questions may be addressed to OCRA’s Membership Co-ordinator.


New OCRA Director Marilyn McDermott

OCRA is pleased to announce that Marilyn McDermott (Mohawk College retiree) has joined the OCRA Board as a director. Marilyn was a faculty librarian at Mohawk College. She is currently the Communications and Membership Director for the Retirees’ Association of Mohawk College. Marilyn is responsible for email communication to members of Mohawk College Retirees’ Association.

Welcome aboard Marilyn!

CAAT Online Portal: My Pension

OCRA members who receive the CAAT Pension should note that they can access their pension information online through the CAAT Pension Plan Member Portal called My Pension.

Here are some reasons to use My Pension:

  • saves paper and time – when you activate your account, you can set your preferences to “online” to get your retired member annual statement online, sooner. NOTE: you will no longer receive a paper-based copy in the mail.
  • flexible – My Pension can be accessed on your tablet or computer.
  • informative – you can see your personal information, including your current pension amount, all in one place.
  • built for you – My Pension provides an easy and secure Message Centre to reach CAAT’s pension experts whenever you have a question.

To register, CAAT Pension Plan members must have an email address and their CAAT Member ID (which can be found on the CAAT Annual Statement or any direct correspondence from CAAT).

Watch this video (3:28 minutes) to see how to register for My Pension.

To begin the registration process, go to the CAAT Pension Plan log-in page.

OCRA GM 2022 – Many Thanks

OCRA’s 16th General Meeting, held on June 29 2022 at Georgian College, was a resounding success thanks to the many people who participated.

First, thanks to Georgian College, President Kevin Weaver, and the ABSC Event Centre staff for providing the perfect venue for our meeting. Thanks too, to our guest speakers, Yvonne Brady from Johnson Insurance, Derek Dobson from the CAAT Pension Plan, and Connie and Sherry Campbell from The Move Planners, for presenting informative and entertaining topics of great interest to our membership. And finally, thanks to the members of the OCRA Executive for planning and running the GM. I appreciate all of your effort.

Linda Choptiany
OCRA President

2022 CAAT Pension Annual Statement and Confirmation

The 2022 CAAT Pension Annual Statement has been sent to its members via Canada Post or via email notice from CAAT’s online member services.

For those who set up a member account on the CAAT Pension Plan portal, My Pension, they can log into the portal and read/download their Annual Statement and Statement Companion (PDFs) from the Dashboard. For assistance with the My Pension portal, contact CAAT’s Member Services at or by phone 1.866.350.2228.

Members are reminded to confirm their pension by Tuesday May 31, 2022.

Instructions on the ways to submit the confirmation are listed in the Statement Companion and are also available on the Retired Member Statement page.

Ontario Colleges Retirees' Association