Around OECTA

April 2023

From Your Local Unit

President's Message

Hello Catholic Teachers of Hamilton.

Not too sure where April went but the weather sure has been reminding us it has been here. We’ve made it to May.

Happy Catholic Education! For those that attended the Pilgrimage Walk mass at Cathedral High School, we were reminded of the theme of the week; We are Many, We are One.

Our vocation as Catholic Teachers allows us to answer the call to be ‘shepherds’ to our students and to bear witness to the Good News that is Jesus Christ.

I can’t help but feel that this theme reminds us, as OECTA members, that although we are many, we are also one. This ‘togetherness’ will be critical and vital in the coming months.

Collective bargaining is continuing, with bargaining dates scheduled for May. OECTA remains committed to the process of bargaining in good faith, and with CUPE recently ratifying their local agreement and with the very recent tentative agreement that the Public Service Alliance of Canada has reached, agreements are getting done. As well, the recent decision by an arbitrator to award Ontario Nurses retroactive wage increases in light of the overturning of Bill 124, is a positive development.

OECTA sends regular bargaining update emails and there are 2 virtual Bargaining Town Hall meetings scheduled for this week. Check the email sent from the office on April 21 for details and registration links.

Placements and transfer season has arrived. We understand that this can cause significant tension and anxiety among teachers. The situation involving the modified LRT position has created staffing issues and shuffling. This particular issue was outlined in an email from this office on April 27. We will be monitoring the transfer process closely to ensure processes are adhered to. If you have any questions, please reach out to the office.

There are many events coming up this month as May is often full of excitement. Scripture reading, public speaking, the OECTA retirement celebration, as well as the Social Committee’s bowling night on May 18th. 

Enjoy this time. Get involved with whatever brings you joy and for those of you who are ‘countdown’ people, school ends next month.

Be well.

Josh



Important Upcoming Dates

Ontario's World Class Education System

Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act

By now, many of you will have read about the Ford government's plans to transform Ontario's education system through changes proposed in Bill 98.  The dubiously titled Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act would usher in significant changes in education, changes that the government claims are needed to "...advance a vision for Ontario’s kindergarten to grade 12 education system that is centred on preparing students to succeed in life and work and on putting highly qualified educators in the classroom while strengthening the voices of parents. (Bill 98)" Preparing students to succeed, highly qualified educators, and strengthened parent voices. Let's give that some consideration.


Highly Qualified Teachers Preparing Highly Successful Students

In 2018,  when Ford took over the handles of government, Ontario's schools were among the best in the world as determined through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an assessment developed and administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Data from the assessment  confirms that Ontario was doing just fine on the education front when Ford took office. The highly qualified, passionate, and incredibly talented teachers of Ontario had been preparing their students for success in life all along! Any need to revamp the education system predicated upon a decline in student performance would have manifested while under Ford's watch, and be a reflection of his government's deeply flawed approach to education policymaking.

Strengthened Parent Voices

In December 2020, the Ford Government passed legislation to restructure the governing council of the Ontario College of Teachers.  Among the changes made was a redefinition of the council's composition whereby autonomy was shifted away from teachers, and the public voice made equal in power in decisions that govern the profession. This move positioned the OCT as a stand-out among other professional regulatory bodies in Ontario - teaching is the only profession which is not self-governed. 

The restructuring of the OCT governing council brought about by the Ford government has already firmly situated the voice of parents within the hands of the regulatory body overseeing the teaching profession. Teachers, no longer in control of their profession, have already had their voices minimized. 


Advancing a Vision for Ontario’s Public Education System 

Let's cut to the chase. What is the Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act really about? And what is it laying the foundation for? Slowly, piece by piece, Ontario's once world class publicly funded education system is being dismantled and underfunded by design in order to grease the path toward Ford's "vision" for public education in Ontario. The changes proposed by the Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act represent yet another step down the pathway toward the end-goal of privatization.

 🎶  One of These Things is Not Like the Other  🎶

Doug Ford's Vision For Education in Ontario

Education Funding Down Since 2018

Though the constant barrage of messaging from Ford and Lecce make claims of record investment in education, evidence to the contrary is revealed by an inspection of the Grants for Student Needs.  Make no mistake about it, with funding down $1200 per pupil (inflation adjusted) since 2018, Ontario's world class public education system remains squarely in the sights of Ford and his plan for privatization.

For those of us who have been around long enough to remember supply rooms without padlocks and photocopiers that continued to somehow "click" once your monthly quota had been met, you will know all too well that school budgets have been on a razor's edge long before Ford ever arrived on scene.  The trend of inimically funding schools is not a new one, but the cuts endured under Ford's watch have dramatically accelerated the erosion of your working conditions and the students' learning conditions. 

If better schools and student outcomes are called for at this time, surely it is the result of the government's bungling of the education portfolio these past several years, and not due to the dedicated efforts of Ontario's teachers who, even throughout a pandemic and without a fair contract, continued to selflessly give of themselves, often donating their own money to their classrooms, and worked tirelessly for their students.

*Note: The value shown in 2020-2021 is reflective of COVID support funding, funding which was  provided to the system predominantly by the Federal government.

Ghost-Funding in Education: Teacher-Purchased Resources

All this talk of education funding, or lack thereof,  would not be complete without addressing an elephant in the room; teacher-purchased resources. As the adequacy of Provincial funding to education has decreased over the years, many teachers have silently stepped in to stem the bleed by spending (even more of) their own salary to ensure that their students receive a quality education. To provide a recent example, in order to make virtual learning a reality many teachers purchased new computers and upgraded their internet plans. This was done on the backs of teachers, who have not seen wage adjustments commensurate to the consumer price index in over 10 years. A few thoughts on this...

First and foremost, teachers are incredibly self-giving people, the salt of the Earth! Second, what a grift the government has got going on here, abetted by the good conscience of teachers to best support their students. And third, teaching is not a martyrdom

Time and again, teachers are called upon to "do more" or "go beyond" because they took on this vocation "for the children."  Being careful to not discredit the undeniable truth that teaching is a labour of love in which an element of self-sacrifice is a generally accepted part of the job, the practice of investing one's own salary back into one's classroom, while commendable, masks the true gap in education funding, a gap which has been progressively widening over time. 

It is unsustainable, not to mention inappropriate, that teachers should be using their own compensation to make up for the shortfall.  Given the forecast for billions of shortchanging in education over the coming years, the unspoken pressure will undoubtedly mount on teachers to give even more of themselves. If the individual decision to spend one's own money is made, please be certain to check with your principal before making any purchases to ensure that you will be reimbursed upon submitting your receipts. 

HWCDSB Teacher Contracts vs Consumer Price Index, 1977 to 2023

25 Years of Service and Retirement Celebration

***Want your name published on this list?  Please reach out to retirement@oectahw.com to give us the go-ahead to include your name.***

OECTA-HW  Unit Executive Elections

On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, local unit elections will take place as part of our at our unit's General Meeting. In accordance with our by-laws, the Elections Committee (graciously co-chaired by Horst Schweinbenz and Lynda Cifani) will issue a series of call-outs for candidates over the coming weeks leading into the election. Interested teachers are urged to declare their candidacy as soon as possible, and take heed of the following information to assist with their campaigns.



The following positions will be determined at the General Meeting.. Additional call-outs will occur in the coming weeks.

1st Vice-President (2 year term)

3rd Vice-President (2 year term)

Recording Secretary (2 year term)

Councillor (1 year term)

*Four Councillors to be elected.

Occasional Teacher Representative (1 year term)

*Must be an elementary Occasional Teacher. Only an elementary Occasional Teacher will be able to vote for this position


Our Association is stronger with your participation! Consider throwing your name into the race for one of these positions.  Declare your candidacy by informing Horst through email.


Nominations  close  May 17th  at  4:30 pm



Car theft is a huge industry. Is your vehicle a target?

Did you know Canada’s auto theft industry is a $1 billion business? According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a vehicle is stolen every six minutes in Canada. Knowing whether your vehicle has landed on Canada’s top 10 stolen cars can help you assess your risk level and determine preventative measures.

Know Your Contract

Teacher Transfer Process

As per our Collective Agreement, the board is required to inform teachers of their assignment for the 2023-2024 school year by May 3. As long as a teacher is qualified to teach the assigned grade/position, the principal has the authority to staff their school (under the Ed Act and Ontario College of Teacher’s Act) in the manner they deem fit. Seniority is not a mandatory consideration during this phase of school organization. While seniority is often the “cleanest” way to make changes, it is up to the discretion of the principal. For instance, if a primary classroom is lost and the principal needs to move someone to junior, they will consider qualifications, staff requests and may take seniority into account. However, if no one is willing to switch divisions, the principal has the final say in the decision.


The contract specifies the exact transfer process and outlines how surplus, supernumerary and redundancy are declared. There are three rounds of transfers, and if you are successful in a round, you cannot apply for a transfer in a subsequent round. Once the transfer process begins, there is no shuffling of grade placement between rounds. This means that if the Gr. 3 teacher gets a transfer in round one, then Gr. 3 must be posted in round two. The school cannot internally reshuffle and post a different grade in round two, as doing so would breach the collective agreement. Teachers within the school can apply for the position in the transfer process, including a teacher who was deemed surplus.


Positions of responsibility, such as Special Education – In-School Resource, Central Resource, System Program, Teacher Librarian, Assistant, and Consultant, as well as AIT, FSL, and ESL positions in the transfer process can only be applied to by teachers who currently hold the position. If someone is currently holding one of these positions, they would not be considered for a regular classroom position or PPT if they applied for it during transfers. If you are considering a change, it is recommended that you reach out to the office.


Success in transfers is determined solely by seniority. Hamilton-Wentworth has negotiated the gold standard for transfers in the province, which not every OECTA unit has been able to achieve. Seniority is determined by the permanent hire date, and in case of a tie where two teachers were hired on the same day, their hire as an OT is the tiebreaker.


If a school loses a teacher, then a teacher is declared surplus. The teacher still has a job in the system, but not at the same school. Only the least senior teacher in the building can be declared surplus. However, if that means that there is no one qualified in the building to teach a particular grade, and the surplus teacher is qualified, then they will not be declared surplus. Instead, the next least senior teacher will be declared surplus. If, after transfers but before August 31, a position opens up a surplus teacher must be offered the chance to return to the school. This does not apply to newly hired teachers. In the meantime, a surplus teacher participates in the transfer process to find their new permanent position.


Supernumerary refers to the situation where the board retains a teacher as a permanent employee, but there are more teachers than there are permanent positions. Since a supernumerary teacher does not have a permanent position, they cannot participate in the transfer process. Currently, there are about a dozen supernumerary teachers on the list. After transfers are complete, any remaining unfilled positions are available to supernumerary teachers. The supernumerary teachers are ranked by seniority and are provided with a list of available positions. Then, in order of seniority, they choose a position from the list. If any teachers remain on the list at the end of this process, they choose from available (hopefully year-long) LTOs.


All postings and transfers are reviewed by the OECTA office. If you see something that doesn’t make sense or become aware of a mid-round shuffle (or have other questions) please let the office know so that we can look into it. It is better to say something and have it checked out, than not to say something and accept a breach of our agreement.

Health and Safety Corner

The Safe Schools Incident Reporting Form


“To improve the school climate, members of the school community need to share information to develop an awareness of factors that have an impact on the school climate and to provide information about the effectiveness of prevention and intervention strategies, practices, and programs in their school.”  (PPM 145)


The Board continues to send the OECTA-HW office redacted copies of the SSIRs completed each month. Those reports are aggregated and used to illuminate system needs in advocacy for our members.  This data is also shared with the Board to help support it in the pursuit of its duties to promote student achievement and well-being through the establishment and maintenance of a positive school climate, and to provide a safe workplace for education workers. It is our sincere hope that the information is used to improve the conditions faced by our members in their schools. If dutiful reporting is occurring and no tangible response is coming from the Board, please reach out to the office for assistance with next steps.

Please see the data table (found here) outlining SSIR completion by school by month from September 2022 to March 2023.  Included with this data is a “per 100 students” report which helps to place a spotlight on schools in need of additional resourcing. 

SSIR Completion- Sept/22 to Mar/23

Member Opportunities

Local Opportunities

The Social Committee Presents: Bowling Night!

After a several year hiatus, the Social Committee is excited to announce the return of the OECTA-HW Bowling Night. Sign up as a solo-bowler or as part of a team.  This one is a fan-favourite and fills up quickly. Reserve your spot today.

OECTA-HW Paints Priti Paintings

Our very first OECTA-HW Paint Night was held at Boston Pizza on Friday April 28th. It was a calming way to end the PA Day with colleagues and good food. Priti Mistry, the artist, encouraged everyone to explore their creative side. "There are no mistakes in painting. We can always turn anything into part of the painting." Everyone went home with their own version  of a beautiful spring painting. Thank you to the Social Committee for organizing this event.

Religious Education Additional Qualification - Part 1

This course contains three face-to-face sessions that will be held on:

The face-to-face sessions will run from 9:00 - 1:00 p.m. at St. Jean de Brebeuf CSS.  For more information, please contact the course director Jennifer Curtis.

Provincial Association Opportunities

Vice-President of Equity on the OECTA Provincial Executive

At the 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM), delegates approved the creation of a Vice-President of Equity position on the Provincial Executive, to take effect July 1, 2023.

Given the importance of this role, the Provincial Executive will be accepting applications from interested members, with the intention of appointing someone to fill the position for the 2023-2024 school year. Going forward, starting at AGM 2024, the position will be subject to an election as per the 2023-2024 Association Handbook.

As such, the Association is inviting applications for the Vice-President of Equity position on the Provincial Executive for 2023-24, from members who self-identify as belonging to one or more of the equity-deserving groups outlined below:


Applications will be accepted until Thursday, May 4.

APPLY TODAY!


The successful applicant will be required to fulfill the duties of the Provincial Executive and the Vice-President of Equity position, as outlined in the 2023-24 Association Handbook. Please open the link below for a more robust description of the role, its duties, and its time commitment.

Read OECTA's Strategic Plan for AIDE

Summer Book Club

Looking to read a great book? Looking to connect with peers to chat about that great book? Sounds like you should join OECTA’s Summer Book Club.

Book Club participants will meet twice. Initially for a brief launch meeting prior to reading the text and then again for a book talk after reading. Participants are required to obtain their own copy of the book in advance of the launch meeting. Registration will open on April 3, 2023.

Scarborough

Catherine Hernandez

Love Lives Here

Amada Jetté Knox

From the Ontario Federation of Labour

JOIN THE FIGHT! WESAYENOUGH.CA

Fed up with the rich getting richer, while workers struggle to get by?

We are, too. And we’re done waiting.

We’re taking action in communities across Ontario. Because enough is enough.

Ready to join us? wesayenough.ca

Here are our demands:

Read more about our demands by clicking here.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

DAY OF ACTION 

June 3, 2023 @ Queen's Park

RSVP today!

From the Provincial Association

Provincial Bargaining Townhalls

On May 2 and 3, OECTA President Barb Dobrowolski will host town hall meetings to update members on the status of provincial bargaining and to answer member questions. She will be joined by other members of the Provincial Bargaining Team.

Members may register to attend either one of the town hall events. Register in advance by clicking on the button below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Catholic Teachers Member Census

For the first time ever, the Association is launching a full-scale census of our membership. Simply put, we are seeking some simple and important – and confidential! – information from you and as many of our 45,000 Catholic teachers as possible, to provide a clearer picture of who our members are, so we can better reach and advocate for all Catholic teachers more effectively.

Your privacy throughout the census process is paramount, which is why we have engaged our long-standing partners at Pollara Strategic Insights, one of Canada’s leading research firms, to help conduct this census. Your information will be held in the strictest of confidence. No one associated with OECTA will be able to connect an individual’s responses with their identity – not the Provincial Executive, not Provincial Office staff, not unit presidents, and not members who complete the survey.

The ultimate success of any census depends on participation. Over the coming weeks and months, you are going to see a LOT of communications about this project. We will attempt to reach Catholic teachers to inform them of this opportunity in a variety of ways – from emails, to traditional “snail mail,” to peer-to-peer texting, and more. You will see advertisements posted in your schools, and we will attempt to encourage participation through a series of draws for exciting prizes – while always ensuring confidentiality.

The more Catholic teachers we can bring into this project, the better positioned our Association will be to further transform and improve what we do. So please, watch your email and for future updates, so you can do your part to make your voice heard, and be counted.

In recognition of the amazing work of educators, the Toronto Blue Jays are once again offering Catholic teachers a 30% discount off select tickets for games through to June 30, 2023.

Offer Details:

https://www.catholicteachers.ca/Members-Area/Blue-Jays-Tickets


Does home insurance cover mould damage?

Mould is a common enemy of Canadian homeowners. It poses a severe health risk and can significantly damage your home, making it expensive to repair. As a homeowner, understanding how to purify your indoor air and keep your family and visitors healthy is essential.


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