Here in southern Ontario the warm weather has finally left us, and we have turned our attention to raking leaves and preparing our yards and gardens for winter. We have not had a frost yet, so I cannot bear to discard my still colourful hanging flowerpots, although I am sure that day will come very soon. I really know fall is here when I clear out my garage from summer projects that have taken up space, so I can again fit my car in for the cold and snowy months.
Since the COVID-19 global emergency was declared to be over, we have been slow getting back to in-person MURA events. The availability of updated vaccines and the waning severity of COVID make many of us more comfortable getting together. In mid-October, MURA council had its first hybrid meeting (in-person or virtual was a personal choice) since pre-COVID. It was my first in-person council meeting ever, and it was very nice to sit across the table from other council members and have a conversation.
We hear and see a lot about the lack of available workers since the pandemic. This is not limited to the paid employment sector. Charities and not-for-profits are having difficulty recruiting volunteers to take on important and rewarding tasks. It is no different here at MURA. We have a hard working, dedicated core of volunteers who keep us up and running. We would love to add some people to lighten the load of some of our long serving lead volunteers. What I have learned since I started on council is that help is only an email away. We all help each other to be successful in our roles. We are looking for a few willing folks to join us. We need a newsletter editor – lots of people are involved in getting the newsletter put together and distributed, but someone needs to take on the coordinating role. The “acting” editor is more than willing to assist to make sure that you are successful. We also need a chair for the communications committee. Again, there is a team that undertakes the work of the committee, but they need a leader. If you are interested in either of these, please contact me at MURA@mcmaster.ca for more information. Most of the work we do is by email or over Zoom. (Our national retiree association, CURAC, is also looking for a retiree to be a member of their communications committee. More details on this volunteer opportunity are outlined further down in this newsletter).
Please join us for our Holiday Lunch on December 5 (more details are below). It will be terrific to see fellow retirees in person after so long.
MURA Holiday Luncheon
Tuesday, December 5, 2023 at 12:00 Noon
CIBC Hall – McMaster Student Centre
MURA’s annual Holiday Lunch is back and will be held on campus in the CIBC Banquet Hall in the Student Centre. The University President’s Office has generously subsidized some of the expenses for this event, which helps to keep the ticket costs down for retirees.
MURA thanks Parking Services for their generous support
Retirees who do not have a McMaster parking permit and transponder will have access to Parking Lots B, D and E close to the Student Centre, and to the underground Stadium lot. Come on to campus via the Sterling Street entrance.
First MURA Graduate Scholarship Awarded
Congratulations to Liza-Anastasia DiCecco, the inaugural recipient of the McMaster University Retirees Association Graduate Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a graduate student researching technological advances related to seniors, and who demonstrates academic excellence.
Graduand Award Winner 2023
Congratulations to Victoria Micoli, the recipient of the $1,000 McMaster University Retirees Association Graduand Prize which is given to a student graduating from an undergraduate program in Aging and Society who attains high averages. Victoria would like to offer her thanks to MURA members.
By Mary Gauld, MURA Special Events Coordinator
In JULY, two groups of us (24 in total) trekked around campus, reacquainting ourselves with old haunts and taking a fresh look at some of the newer buildings. It was a warm day, so we rewarded ourselves with lunch and a beverage at the Phoenix at the completion of our walk.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 14: Meeting at the Chedoke Golf Course (off of Aberdeen Ave.), eight of us started off on the Bruce Trail heading west. We walked to the top of the escarpment (to Scenic Dr). Two brave souls crossed from there over to the Chedoke Stairs and came down to meet the rest of us waiting at the bottom. It is a gorgeous, relaxing, and natural setting. Put this on your list.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 13: The scene is Queenston Heights park – the site of Brock’s Monument. This was the 211th anniversary of Sir Isaac Brock’s death in the war of 1812. Queenston Heights is a beautiful, easy-walking park with several historic markers. It is also the official starting place of the Bruce Trail. October is a beautiful time to walk there. The weather was glorious – brisk but sunny. There were only four participants, but we had a great time. An historian from the Friends of Fort George told us the history of the park, the story of the fighting that took place, highlighted the contributions of the First Nations allies and the Coloured Militia, and took us to the Radan where the artillery was positioned to hold off the Americans (that was a bit of a hike). In all, it was a lovely visit. And we went for lunch afterward. Always a treat!
Retirees in the News
By Marcia MacAulay
Recognizing the legacy of Atif Kubursi, Professor Emeritus, Economics
The friends and former students of Atif A. Kubursi are establishing an undergraduate scholarship to celebrate Atif’s ongoing global legacy. Beginning in 2024, the Dr. Atif A. Kubursi Scholarship will be awarded annually to an undergraduate student who attains a high average in the Arts & Science Program or as a major in Economics, alternating between students in the Arts & Science Program and in Economics. Gifts to the fund will be matched up to a total of $25,000 thanks to a generous former student of Dr. Kubursi.
Welcome New Retirees
Compiled by Kathy Overholt
Compiled by Kathy Overholt
John Bandler,* Electrical & Computer Engineering, September 28, 2023
* See the Daily News article:
By Marcia MacAulay
A state-of-the-art campus greenhouse is being built beside the Life Sciences Building, with an expected occupancy date of spring 2024.
The 11,400 sq. ft. greenhouse will feature a sunken floor, offering more space for plants to grow upward. A highlight of the design is climate-controlled spaces, with dedicated research and learning areas. Sails just under the roof will help biologists customize light, and watering will be automated, further supporting ideal research conditions for the thousands of plants encompassing more than 200 species. The greenhouse will also be the first building on campus to use a sustainable geothermal system for heating and cooling.
The existing aging greenhouse next to Hamilton Hall welcomes upwards of 3,000 visitors each year, including students, community members, volunteers, children attending McMaster camps, patients and their families at the hospital on campus, visiting school tours, and even staff groups participating in wellness events. The number of annual visitors to the new greenhouse is expected to increase thanks to the building’s new location at the heart of campus, its accessible design and its improved visitor experience.
Marie Elliot, department chair and professor of biology, says: “The new greenhouse will provide our students and our faculty members with a state-of-the-art facility in which to explore critical questions relating to plant survival in the face of adverse conditions, plant immunity, and plant communication, in addition to understanding how plants and microbes can collaborate to improve plant growth and minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Plant biology is something that impacts everyone – plants provide us with food and oxygen, and increasingly, we are learning about the physical, mental and emotional benefits associated with ‘green spaces.’”
The current greenhouse will be retired when the new one is built. Plants from the current building, from the beloved chocolate tree to the odorous but beautiful titan arums, will be relocated to their new home once construction is complete. See the Daily News article New campus greenhouse to nurture research, learning and outreach.
The McMaster Children’s Centre
The McMaster Children’s Centre (MCC) on-campus daycare has officially moved from the west side of campus to a new state-of-the-art facility on the second floor of the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning (PGCLL).
The new facility features more space for increased capacity, larger and brighter rooms, and playgrounds on the terrace. There are 10 reserved parking spots for parents to use for drop-off and pick-up, as well as a private entrance into PGCLL with an elevator and stairs.
The new centralized location will allow the children to explore and enjoy McMaster’s green spaces and other amenities. It also provides the chance for the centre to build partnerships across campus and to “feel like we are more a part of the campus community,” says Linda Davis, president of the Centre’s board of directors.
The MCC, a non-profit, self-supporting corporation administered by a director and board of directors, has 15 staff members and the capacity to care for 70 children between the ages of 18 months and five years. Currently, 80 per cent of the children in the MCC have a parent employed by or studying at McMaster.
“Sheila Scott, who was the Dean of Women at McMaster University from 1965 to 1982, established the MCC in 1975 to support families and women at McMaster,” says Davis. “We continue to honour her legacy as the Centre evolves to become even further established in McMaster’s community.”
A grand opening is tentatively planned for the fall once everyone is settled in. View the Daily News article McMaster Children’s Centre now resides in the heart of campus.
McMaster Chaplaincy Exam Hospitality Program - December 2023
The McMaster Chaplaincy Centre is looking for volunteers to help with our Exam Hospitality Program. Every semester, the Chaplaincy Centre opens a drop-in space for students to receive free cookies and warm drinks to ease the stress of exams. We are looking for people who would like to chat with students, serve coffee, and help with cleanup. We are also looking for cookie donations (store bought or homemade - peanut free).
Kinesiology Research Study Participants Needed
Researchers in McMaster’s Department of Kinesiology, under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Walsh, are looking for volunteers aged 55 – 75 to participate in study of how a ketone supplement affects brain function in adults with memory complaints. The study involves three testing visits, each of 1-2 hours duration, at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
School of Rehabilitation Science
Virtual Exercise Trial Volunteer Opportunity
Researchers in McMaster’s School of Rehabilitation Science are looking for volunteers to participate in a virtual exercise trial for adults over 60 with a current or past diagnosis of cancer.
CURAC Needs Communications Committee Members
The Communications Committee plays a central role in the work of the Colleges and University Retirees Associations of Canada (CURAC/ARUCC). As it begins work for 2023-24, the CURAC/ARUCC Board invites retirees with an interest in communications to join the committee to assist with strategic communications planning and the provision of support for the important communication activities of the organization.
Questions About Your Sun Life Health & Dental Claims Coverage?
By Brian Beckberger and Helen Barton
Statement from Human Resources Services
If these steps do not resolve your issue, please let MURA know by email to email@example.com or by leaving a phone message at 905-525-9140, ext. 23171.
As a retiree with post-retirement health and dental benefits, you should expect to continue to receive the same coverage and reimbursements as you have had since you retired as outlined in your Sun Life Benefit Booklet. (The exception is the prescription drug benefit, which becomes a supplemental benefit at age 65 when the Ontario Drug Benefit, or other provincial drug benefit, becomes the primary payer).
You should not experience any change to the process used to submit claims and receive reimbursements, or difficulties such as denials of coverage, changes to your usual deductibles, or long delays in reimbursements.
Your benefits are outlined in your retiree benefit plan booklet, available from the Human Resources Services website. Alternatively, you can request a copy of your benefit booklet by contacting the HR Service Centre at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.
How to Determine if a Drug will be covered
Most of McMaster’s Extended Health and Dental benefit plans provide coverage for drugs that require a prescription and are prescribed by a doctor or dentist and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. These are the drugs listed on Schedule I of the Canadian National Drug Schedule (NDS). The Plans do not cover drugs on the other Schedules such as Schedule II drugs, which do not need a prescription but must be dispensed by a licensed pharmacist (the so called ‘behind the counter’ or ‘over the counter’ drugs). Be sure to check your Sun Life Benefit Booklet to understand the prescription drug coverage that is available to you as some plans provide coverage for all prescription drugs which legally require a prescription whereas others are subject to the Rx05 drug formulary which covers selected drugs and supplies.
In Ontario, pharmacists are allowed to prescribe drugs for many common ailments. For a list see Pharmacy specific programs – Prescriptions for common ailments. Schedule I drugs prescribed by an Ontario pharmacist will be adjudicated and reimbursed by your McMaster Retiree benefit plan the same way as if they had been prescribed by a doctor.
As a retiree, you need to be aware that the Schedule a drug is in can change from time to time. For example, Health Canada may change a vaccine’s classification so it no longer requires a prescription. When this happens, you will find that a drug that has been covered by your retiree benefit plan is no longer covered.
Human Resources recommends that, prior to receiving a vaccine that has a cost, retirees should contact Sun Life to determine if it is eligible for coverage. This can be done by using the drug lookup tool in your online Sun Life account*, or by contacting Sun Life by phone at 1-800-361-6212. One such example is the new vaccine Arexvy, recently authorized for use by Health Canada for use in the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in adults 60 years of age and older.
*After logging in to your online Sun Life account, follow the “Drug Lookup” link on the Benefits page to get to the drug lookup page. Fill in the search line with the name or Drug Identification Number (DIN) of your drug.
The last issue of MURAnews announced Sun Life Global Excel Management (GEM) as the new provider for retiree out-of-province/country coverage as of July 1, 2023. A summary of the McMaster Retiree Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Coverage and an updated travel card are available at Retiree Out of Country Coverage Summary, or by contacting the HR Service Centre at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.
Here's more information on this coverage.
The coverage is available to McMaster retirees with post-retirement benefits (and their eligible dependents) who live in Canada. You are encouraged to review your retiree benefit booklet to understand the coverage available for you and your dependents. Coverage is provided through Sun Life Financial in partnership with Sun Life Global Excel Management (GEM). Sun Life will pay 100% of the cost of qualified emergency services up to a lifetime maximum of $10,000, and cover emergency services obtained within 60 days of the date you leave the province where you live. Note that this coverage is less than when you were an active employee and is not considered adequate coverage for most purposes. MURA and McMaster Human Resources (HR) strongly recommend additional private travel insurance for all travel out of province or outside Canada. Ontarians with OHIP coverage will be covered for physician and public hospital care when visiting other parts of Canada, but some procedures and expenses may not be fully covered, and if you need to be evacuated back to Ontario the cost can be very high. You should also have additional insurance in place if you’re going to the United States, even if only for the day.
This can save money since a higher deductible means a less expensive premium. Be aware, though, that if you choose to use this strategy, and you have to make a claim, your McMaster coverage will be the first payer on that claim. Your lifetime McMaster coverage will be reduced by that claim, up to the full $10,000, and the amount saved on the premium may not be worth the loss of the McMaster coverage. This is particularly true since the McMaster benefit covers all pre-existing medical conditions and may, therefore, be the only affordable insurance available to older travelers, which leads to the second strategy…
If your age and/or pre-existing conditions make you more difficult or expensive to insure, the McMaster benefit may be a good option, as it will provide at least some coverage or help to reduce higher private insurance premiums.
Private out-of-province/country emergency medical coverage
An insurance broker may be a good place to start. Medi-Quote (1-800-661-3098) and Securiglobe (1-866-550-2444) are two examples of such brokers. Google “travel insurance brokers” to find a comprehensive list. Be sure to scroll past the first items in the results list prefaced by the word “Sponsored”, as they are just paid advertisements and may not be the best options.
There are many other providers of out-of-province/out-of-country medical insurance. Blue Cross, the CAA, CARP, and RBC are just a few. In addition, many premium credit cards provide travel insurance. Beware, however, of assuming that your credit card will provide you with adequate medical insurance. Many premium credit cards do provide automatic travel insurance, but this coverage is limited, often with restrictions on time period of travel, age, and medical condition, so always read the fine print.
An excellent discussion of travel health insurance, questions you should ask when purchasing, and the restrictions and limitations of this insurance is available from the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association's information pamphlet, A Guide to Travel Health Insurance, or by calling CLHIA at 1-888-295-8112.
Consider a Legacy Gift to McMaster
Submitted by Eli Clarke, Manager, Estate Giving & Legacy Planning,
Did you know that more than 3 million Canadians have left charitable gifts in their will? With an ethical will, retirees like you can create a lasting legacy that protects your family’s future and supports causes that matter to you – like higher education.
Parking on Campus
Permit Expiry Renewal Reminder
Note that central-campus parking (with a transponder) is available to McMaster retirees as follows:
A note to retirees without parking transponders
Free on campus parking is available to all retirees. To take advantage of this perk, and to view retiree parking access, go to the McMaster Parking Services web page. The Parking Office is accepting permit applications by email only. For further information, please contact Parking Services.
Notifying Human Resources of Address Changes
Address changes can be forwarded to the HR Service Centre using any of the following methods:
Please do not hesitate to contact an HR Advisor with any questions.
courtesy of icanhascheeseburgers.com
courtesy of Humour is Contagious
Computer Tips & Tricks
As the fall weather sets in and winter approaches, watching TV shows and movies at home is a cosy entertainment option. If you’re looking to expand your viewing possibilities, your Hamilton Public Library card can give you free online access to movies, TV shows, documentaries, and video lectures as well as music. Many other public libraries offer similar services. For example, two of the main resources described here, Hoopla and Kanopy, are widely available at public libraries in Canada and the US.
The remaining resources include kid’s versions of Kanopy and Summa, and online learning videos from Linked-in Learning (formerly Lynda.com – you can read more about Lynda.com in this article from the Spring 2020 MURAnews).
A sample of Hoopla movies and TV
A sample of titles available on Kanopy
A Sense of Place: Miscou Island
By Elaine McKinnon Riehm, Faculty of Humanities, Eighteenth-Century Fiction
(This article was previously published in the McMaster Macaroon.)
If you drive north-east in New Brunswick, past Bathurst, past Caraquet, along the south shore of the Baie des Chaleurs, you will run out of mainland and find yourself in the town of Shippagan on the island of Lamèque. Continue east on highway 113 across an iron bridge over a narrow channel to the smaller island of Miscou, which lies at the confluence of the Baie des Chaleurs and the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1755, the English expelled the Acadians from Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, as a part of the continual wars with France that encompassed both Europe and North America. This is known in English as “The Expulsion of the Acadians” and in French as “Le Grand Dérangement.” The Acadians scattered to remote areas in Maine, Louisiana (then governed by France), Québec, all along the Atlantic coast, and to the fringes of north-east New Brunswick. Although they had been farmers in Grand-Pré, they adapted to new lives in their new surroundings. My sister-in-law, Lillian, was one of nine children born to an Acadian fisherman and his wife on Miscou Island.
Lillian often spoke of Miscou. During her childhood, long before the bridges were built, Miscou was remote and insignificant except for its lighthouse. Lillian remembered as a young girl one winter suffering from a severe toothache. There being no dentist on Miscou or Lamèque, her father took her by sleigh across the ice in the channels between the two islands and the mainland to a dentist in Bathurst. While they were there, the ice broke up, and they were unable to return to Miscou until they were rescued by local fishermen in a goélette.
From her stories, I imagined Miscou Island to be a rocky outcropping edged by massive cliffs, lashed by cold winds, and home to colonies of seabirds, similar perhaps to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. This past summer, I travelled to Miscou with a friend to attend a memorial gathering for Lillian and her sister Odile. To my surprise, I discovered Miscou to be a low-lying sandy island, dotted with peat bogs, woodlands of pine and aspen, and tall wind-blown grasses.
For centuries, the main mode of transportation and the means of livelihood for fishermen was the goélette, a run-about used in the St. Lawrence River and Baie des Chaleurs to carry cargo to isolated ports and men to the lobster and mackerel grounds. A goélette lies now at the mouth of a creek on Miscou, broken but shapely still, its two masts collapsed upon the hull as if waiting for the next breeze. And breezes are common on Miscou. More accurately, there are heavy prevailing winds and frequent storms.
On the north-east corner of the island, sits the landmark lighthouse. It is eighty feet tall and was built in 1856 to replace an earlier one from the seventeenth century. Nowadays, visitors with sturdy legs climb to the top for the view out to sea and down to the beach below where there are picnic tables for visitors. It is a pleasant spot for a day’s excursion or ramble.
At the memorial celebration, there were about 50 guests including sons, cousins, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, and neighbours. There was an abundance of food: seafood lasagna, a cauldron of fish chowder, grilled sausages, chicken, salads of every sort, and breads and desserts that I shall not attempt to describe. The Acadian hospitality was boundless.
There was also storytelling. Miscou mosquitoes, we were told, are so large that they have to get down on their knees to bite.
Like their eighteenth-century forebears, Lillian’s family have scattered – to Québec, Montréal, Ottawa, Barrie, Mississauga, Windsor, and points beyond. But they continue to speak French and they continue to hear from afar the sound of the sea lapping or pounding on the shores of Miscou Island, beckoning them home.
courtesy of Rose Anne Prevec
The Fun of Singing and Playing Music Online!
By Helen Ramsdale, Department of Medicine
If you are interested in the physics of why this works, the website has some neat descriptions of both the cognitive ear aspect and how the internet processing is set up.
Missing the Bus is not Always a Bad Thing
By Sylvia Avery, MacPherson Institute
This past June, PLAY airlines took to the skies on its inaugural flight from Hamilton International Airport, marking the start of daily flights to Iceland and Europe. The introductory offer promoted by the airline caught my husband’s eye, and before I knew it, we were booked to vacation in Iceland in September.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky on the second day, so we rented a car and drove the Golden Circle – the most famous of all scenic routes in Iceland combining stunning landmarks and historically significant places in a circular sightseeing tour. The landscape was truly magnificent and highly varied. The highlight of the day was getting soaked by the Strokkur geyser. It caught a lot of people by surprise – including me – as it sprouted over 100 feet into the air.
The following day, I booked my excursion to see the northern lights. My travel companions were not interested in a late-night bus trip into the dark countryside, so I ventured out on my own. The evening conditions were near perfect. The sky was clear and the KP index was 4 – Active – bright, constant, and dynamic northern lights visible. I could hardly contain my excitement.
The hotel concierge told me it was a four-minute walk to Skúlagata and bus stop #14. I left the hotel at 9:10 figuring this was plenty of time to walk two blocks. Unfortunately, the Google Map on my iPhone managed to turn me in the other direction, and I found myself disoriented by 9:15. I stopped several people to ask for directions. No one was certain about where to send me. I ran frantically into two convenience stores. Surely, the local people would know where Skúlagata was. The first person pointed me in one direction, and the second person said it was “just up the street.” By now, it was 9:25 pm and I started to panic. 9:30 pm came and went. I tried calling the number on my registration form, but no one answered. I called our hotel and the concierge said he would order a taxi to take me to the next bus stop. Sadly, I was standing at a corner where the cab was not able to reach me directly.
To quote Anthony Douglas Williams, “Mother Nature has the power to please, to comfort, to calm, and to nurture one’s soul.” True to a mother’s nature, she sensed my sadness and opened her skies to a nearly 20-minute show of beautiful dancing waves of light. I set my camera on the tripod, pointed my lens toward the sky, and began shooting.
And just like that, they disappeared. I waited to see if they would reoccur, but it was not meant to be. When I returned to the hotel and explained my story, the concierge said a lot of people visit Iceland for one reason only – to see the northern lights. They go out night after night and end up returning home without ever having seen this atmospheric phenomenon.
So, although I missed the bus, I did see the lights. And I got some great pictures. I’ve complemented my story with some of the photos I took in Iceland, including those spectacular northern lights. I hope you enjoy them.
A Creative Life After Retirement
by Jen Newton, Pathology and Molecular Medicine
I’d been working as a bench scientist for 15 years when the creative bug bit. I come from a family of creatives – my two older brothers are both Hollywood film composers; my oldest brother, Mychael, won the Oscar for 2012’s The Life of Pi – but when faced with the post-secondary choice of science versus music, I chose science. I never regretted the decision that led to a 32-year career doing important work, including research in HIV, dengue fever, influenza, and finally COVID. But any career can become repetitive and somewhat restrictive given enough time, and there came a time when I felt the pull to branch out into something else.
Saturday, December 2, 2023
2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
McIntyre Performing Arts Centre
135 Fennel Ave, W, Hamilton
Formed in 2003, Harbourtown Sound (HTS) is a vibrant men’s a cappella chorus that’s part of the Ontario District of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). HTS has competed at the BHS International Convention on several occasions, and is proud to support local charities in the greater Halton-Hamilton region.
Both A Cappella Showcase and Harbourtown Sound choruses are directed by Jordan Travis.
For more information, or to order tickets, please visit Holiday Spectacular.
You can also check out some of our performances on YouTube.
1. When I Fall in Love (A Cappella Showcase)
2. Let there Be Peace on Earth (Harbourtown Sound)
3. O Come, O Come Emanuel (Tim Waurick)
MURAnews is produced by MURA members Denise Anderson (Production Editor), Sylvia Avery, Helen Barton (News Editor), Nora Gaskin, John Horsman, and Marcia MacAulay. We welcome submissions from MURA members.
Contributing writers: Brian Beckberger, and Kathy Overholt.
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