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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 1, September 2006

The BCTF Assistance Society

by Steve LeBel

The BCTF Assistance Society exists to help current and retired BCTF members who require emergency financial assistance. The assistance also extends to their dependents and spouses (including common-law and same-sex partners). It is another example of "teachers helping teachers."

The BCTF Assistance Society, an entity separate from the BCTF, was incorporated as a society in 1971, with residual funds from the former provincial and Vancouver Teachers’ Medical Services’ Associations (prior to creation of the B.C. Medical Services’ Plan), as well as some bequests and donations. BCTF staff administer the society, and the BCTF bears those costs as its contribution. The BCTF also appoints six active BCTF members as directors to the society’s board each year. Another six directors are elected directly by the society’s members at the society’s AGM every April. The directors, and the BCTF staff members who work with them, treat every application for assistance with respect and confidentiality.

The society usually offers a modest, interest-free loan, and in special circumstances, an outright grant. Recipients are expected to repay their loans within a reasonable time, so that other members can access the same services. A repayment schedule is based on each applicant’s finances.

Financial assistance is usually requested because of a personal disaster, such as a sudden medical or housing emergency, or a family crisis. Assistance is not available for such things as debt consolidation, summer expenses, education costs, or situations arising from strikes or lockouts. Generally, assistance is not available until all other avenues have been explored.

To obtain an application form for assistance, go to bctf.ca/SalaryAndBenefits.aspx?id=4758 or ask your local teachers’ association for an application form, or contact the BCTF Assistance Society directly at 604-871-1921, or 1-800-663-9163, and ask for the Assistance Society secretary. To be considered by the directors, an application form must be completed in full, and the applicant must sign a release authorizing a credit check.

Steve LeBel is president of the BCTF Assistance Society.

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