Physical and Mental Health
during a Pandemic


The pandemic is taking a toll on all of us. As we maintain physical distancing it is important that we do all we can to maintain and nurture physical and emotional health. Here are some ideas that may be helpful in getting us through these difficult days by reducing anxiety, irritability and feelings of social isolation.

>  Live in the moment. Do not try to predict the future but purposely focus on today.

>  Make contact with friends and family at least once a day, by telephone or social media. If there is someone you can be vulnerable with –  all the better so that you can freely share your thoughts and concerns.

>  Take a break from the news.

>  Create or listen to uplifting music.

>  Read a good book or interesting magazines, listen to audiobooks

>  Get regular exercise.

>  Get outside if possible…. Walk, snowshoe, ski, skate. But do so safely.

>  Develop a daily routine.

>  Try to keep a positive mindset. Practice gratitude. Communicate with empathy and kindness.

>  Maintain a healthy diet.

>  Pursue a new activity…. do crafts, learn to play a musical instrument, write letters, work on challenging puzzles, knit, learn a new language, try cooking new healthy recipes, join an online book club…,

>  Foster good sleep patterns.

>  Ask for help from friends or family members when you need it and be specific about how they can help

Seniors Active Living Centre

For those of us with computer access, the Seniors Active Living Centre offers online classes which can help to keep us active during social isolation and also provide some social enjoyment even while we stay in our own homes.

Recreation programs fall under the categories: Active Healthy Living, Fitness Classes, Games, Arts and Crafts, Education, Culinary and Just for Fun. Most classes last 4 weeks and there is a new calendar for recreation programs every month. Registration in advance is required. Some classes are free and some have a small fee. For more details and to register for classes, please call or email either the Northern Community Centre Active 55+ (705-759-5377) or the Bay Street Active Living Centre 55+ (705-254-647)

 The Algoma Public Health Unit

The Algoma Public Health Unit provides on line information and activities through their Stay on Your Feet program. People sign up to receive emails with activities and resources for healthy living. There is a Healthy Aging Toolkit with resources for staying active that includes winter safety, simple exercises, and guides for living independently, healthy eating and safety information including fall prevention and winter walking. There is a section about medications and how to manage them, a flyer listing some ways to stay connected, and a compendium of senior friendly care giver resources.


CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) has a website with resources to help us deal with the stresses of the pandemic. There is an online forum where people can create an account and log onto a peer-to-peer discussion forum. There people can offer support and encouragement and also share their own experiences of managing stress and anxiety related to Covid-19. There are also tips and suggestions for how to cope in this challenging time. The website has information on loss, grief and mourning and healing and moving forward. A list of resources for additional support is also provided.

 If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact 911 immediately or present to your nearest emergency department. For up-to-date information about Ontario’s COVID-19 response, please visit the provincial government’s COVID-19 information page,


 Submitted by Marie DellaVedova. Political Advocacy Representative

Congratulations to Rich Prophet, RTOERO Chair!

Congratulations to Rich Prophet who was elected as the new Chair on the Board of Directors for RTOERO which is now a national organization! Kudos to a hard-working member of District 3!

Rich stepped into “retirement” in 2008. His dedication has been evident throughout his “retirement” serving District 3 as well as provincial committees in an exemplary manner. One only has to glance at our local RTOERO website to get testimony to his commitment.

District 3 has an impressive history with provincial leadership. Weldon Abernethy was President in 1977 and Mickey Contini was RTOERO President in 2002-2003. Gayle Manley has diligently served on the Health and Benefits Committee (2009 to the present). What an outstanding achievement this is!  Gayle is now serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors.  Imagine two members on the Board of Directors are from Sault Ste. Marie! Even the new Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors (Bill Huzar) originally taught in the Sault area. (He retired in British Columbia). To have had five members on the Board with roots well planted in District 3 is remarkable to say the least!

The members of District 3 are extremely proud of those who have sacrificed so much personal time to serve our organization both locally, provincially and nationally. We are confident that with Rich at the helm RTOERO will forge forward in a remarkable way into an exciting future.

UPDATED District 3 Travel Allowance

53 cents/km, to a maximum of $60.00 per Meeting.
District 3 encourages Carpooling!

Travel Expense Forms available at all District 3 Meetings.

Blair Sterling – Our 2020 Mickey Contini Award of Merit Recipient

The Mickey Contini Award of Merit has been established in District 3 Algoma to recognize outstanding contributions to our organization. We were extremely pleased to honour Blair Sterling as our district award winner this year. We would like to introduce Blair Sterling; the Mickey Contini 2020 Award recipient. Mickey would be so pleased because he knew Blair and respected his work in the teaching profession and his work with RTOERO.

Members in the East appreciate Blair’s commitment to RTOERO. He continues to co-ordinate all local members within the larger Soo group. He keeps in touch with all of the RTO members ensuring that they know about events and have the correct health contact numbers and information.

Blair cares about the welfare of all members. Blair is the go-to guy for RTOERO in and around the North Shore. Blair continues to believe that as seniors we must also know about our pensions. Blair helps all who call in and continues to check in with people that are retiring and have been retired for a time about their status. Blair was recognized in a past article in Accent on Algoma as a Super Senior.

Blair Sterling can be best summed up by the famous quote, “It‘s hard to forget someone who gave so much to remember”…  On behalf of District 3, congratulations on a well-deserved award, Blair Sterling.

Committee members: Bernice Whalen, Marie DellaVedova, Christopher Rous

Ontario's Health Care Nightmare

(This article was written in mid August and reflects the knowledge and situations at that time.)

Regrettably, the apprehensions expressed about the state of Ontario’s health care in the last edition of Accent of Algoma were proven to be well founded. The letter from Martha Foster, Chair of the RTO-ERO Board of Directors, to Health Minister Christine Elliott outlined concerns about gaps and cuts to health services for seniors. Hospital overcrowding and the personal support worker (PSW) crisis in long-term care was the focus of an article outlining reports of the suffering existing in hospitals and long-term care homes long before COVID-19.

These issues are far from new. Present and preceding provincial governments were long ago alerted to the alarming conditions in hospitals and long-term care. And over the years there have been many reports, articles and television documentaries outlining the deplorable conditions in long-term care homes. Little to no effective action was ever taken. And then the pandemic struck with a vengeance never before seen. And we had a catastrophe – a nightmare long in the making.

As of August 15, Ontario has had 42,437 cases of COVID-19 and 2,835 deaths. Many southern Ontario hospitals, already pushed to the limit with unsafe levels of overcrowding, were hard pressed to accommodate the needs of COVID-19 patients. Thankfully, through the concerted cooperation of Ontarians, we were able to “flatten the curve”. But overcrowded hospital conditions still exist. What will happen if there is a second wave? Medical experts are almost certain that a second wave will occur with an increased number of cases and fatalities.

It took revelations from Canada’s military to compel the Ontario government to acknowledge the horrendous and intolerable conditions in long-term care. These conditions fuelled the coronavirus allowing it to “spread like wildfire” and led to unimaginable suffering and needless deaths in numerous long-term care homes. Of the coronavirus deaths in Ontario, 1,800 residents in Ontario’s long-term care homes and eight workers have died of COVID-19.

 According to a survey conducted by the Ontario Health Coalition from July 10 to July 17, 2020 many long-term care residents continue to go without their basic needs being met largely due to severe staffing shortages. (

 Why didn’t Ontario act sooner to improve the conditions for seniors in long-term care? The government certainly had the information. And what will Ontario do now?

Let’s hope the province gets it right this time and makes sure our long-term care residents are housed in clean, safe facilities where they receive appropriate care and the dignity and respect they deserve. It is high time the province instituted a 4-hour minimum standard of front-line care for each resident.

But the Caring In Crisis Report of 2019 uses stark statistics to show us that the long-term care crisis will not be solved unless more qualified staff is available. The increased numbers and acuity of long–term care residents, the extremely poor working conditions and pay of personal support workers, and the low recruitment and retention of PSWs must all be addressed.

In July Premier Ford announced $1.75 billion for new long-term care beds and renovations. This is actually a re-announcement of funding slated before COVID-19 to build new beds and renovate existing beds. But increasing the number of beds will not be enough when there is a critical shortage of long-term care staff. No money has been announced to improve care and staffing levels.

Moreover, even though there have been widespread calls to make long-term care an integral part of the public health care system and not-for-profit, the Ford government has not moved to do so. 57% of Ontario’s nursing homes are for-profit institutions. That is the largest percentage in Canada. Researchers Nathan Stall, Aaron Jones, Kevin Brown, Paula Rochon and Andrew Costa looked at all 623 long-term care homes in Ontario from March 29 to May 20, 2020, tallying COVID-19 outbreaks, cases and deaths. Their research suggests that 85% of chain-operated for-profit homes have a significantly higher risk of worse COVID-19 outcomes and more related deaths than non-profit or municipally run homes. (Study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, July 2020)

Dr. Samir Sinha, a Toronto-based geriatrician not involved in the study, said 30,000 long-term care beds in Ontario are in dire need of upgrades. “Many of these older multi-bedded homes happen to be owned by for-profits,” Sinha said. “The study really speaks to the need to redevelop that.” (Canadian Press, July 22, 2020)

Public taxes and residents’ fees fund long-term care homes. Taxpayer money is given to private healthcare corporations that pay out rich dividends to private shareholders. In the last three months of the pandemic long-term care corporations paid shareholders many millions of dollars. Long-term care residents continue to live without adequate care.

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal commentary (July, 2020), “If requirements to fund adequate levels of staffing affect the bottom lines of for-profit facilities, then it might be time for this care to be turned over to public and non-profit entities.”

We should all think about that.

Nightmares can reoccur.

Submitted by Marie DellaVedova, Member at Large

If you are a member of the RTOERO Extended Health Care Plan, you have access to the Venngo MemberPerks affinity program without any extra fees. MemberPerks gives you access to discounts at brand named stores and local places- discounts are available on-line as well as in-store.

Getting started is easy!

1. Sign Up – You just need to go to to create your account and access all the great perks!

2. Download the Venngo Mobile app. Use your perks on the go!

3. Start savingSaving money is easy. Show the mobile app, print the perk, or shop online.

Here is a list of local businesses in Algoma offering discounts through Venngo:

MemberPerks 1

The Top 25 Perks based on savings for RTOERO members are reported as follows (These could be on-line, via telephone or in-store for Algoma members):

MemberPerks 2
*  Please note that perk merchants and discount offers are subject to change.
** Please visit for current discount offers and redemption information.

Provincial & Local Scholarships

LOCAL Scholarships – District 3 has established awards of $500 at both Algoma University and Sault College.
                                        District 3 Contact:  Current President District 3 —

PROVINCIAL Scholarship ProgrammeApplicants, who are members’ relatives, who apply for scholarships must be in
last year from a Faculty of Education or who were in any programme in their
                                                                    final year of a College or university. 
 CLICK HERE, for Provincial Details

The Mickey Contini Award of Merit

The Mickey Contini Award of Merit was established within the Algoma District RTOERO to recognize outstanding contributions to the organization.

Nominees for the award will be selected in recognition of their outstanding and/or long term contributions to the work of RTOERO at the Provincial and/or District level. The Mickey Contini Award of Merit recognizes the great effort that Mickey Contini put forth on behalf of the members of RTOERO for so many years.


Previous Mickey Contini Award of Merit Recipients

2000 Barbara Lamb
2000 Jean DuQuesnay
2000 Leona Galloway

2001 Ben Smith
2001 Grant Lawson
2001 Jean King
2001 John Jefferson
2001 Orlando Sicoly

2003 Bill Kidd
2003 Mary Kidd
2003 Ken Frier
2003 Mickey Contini

2004 John Fleming
2004 Maj-Liisa Donaghue

2005 Marilyn Patterson

2006 Diane Marshall
2006 Leone Hamilton
2006 Pat Fremlin

2008 Bill Purnis

2009 Geoff Shaw

2010 Ora Mae James

2010 Bonnie Forsell

2010 Moyra O’Pallie

2011 Nancy Sachro

2012 Gary Wills

2013 Gayle Manley

2014 Marie DellaVedova

2015 Bruce Avery
2015 Page Nicolson

2016 Emily Noble

2017 Bernice Whalen

2018 Kathryn Greening

2019 Rich Prophet

2020 Blair Sterling

Mickey Contini

Mickey passed away December 7, 2014

To View or Download/Print the 2021 Mickey Contini Award of Merit Nomination Form, click the form

2021 Submission Date:  April 30, 2021


Either download and complete the Nomination Form, above, or fill in your nomination, below, and submit online right now!


The Award of Merit was established within the District 3 Algoma RTOERO to recognize outstanding contributions to the organization. Nominees for the award will be selected in recognition of their involvement in the work of RTOERO at the Provincial and/or District level. At the May 28, 2014 Annual General Meeting of RTOERO, the award was renamed THE MICKEY CONTINI AWARD OF MERIT. This recognizes and shows appreciation for all the efforts that Mickey made on behalf of the members of RTOERO throughout the years.

If you wish to nominate an eligible, worthy member, please provide a brief description of the nominee’s contributions to RTOERO locally and/or provincially in the form below, then CLICK SUBMITYou will receive a confirmation email.