Around OECTA

January 2023

From Your Local Unit

President's Message

Hello colleagues and friends.

We are nearing the half-way point in the year which feels like it’s been 2 years already.

No doubt, all of you are working hard on reports (or have completed them). The office inquired many times about further support for Aspen but the board did not seem to have a plan or desire to provide it. Many of you have been developing shortcuts and hacks for the reports and are sharing them with your colleagues. Hopefully comfort and confidence is building with this troublesome program.

The missed prep and planning time payments have been made to those who qualified and we are working through the few issues that have arisen. It has been stated many times that this agreement did not capture all of the missed PTs from last year as they were not all documented. It is crucial that all teachers diligently record and follow-up on missed planning time as this holds the board accountable and strengthens our position that regular, daily planning time is essential for our jobs. When missed planning times go unredressed, it sends a dangerous message. 

The board has been providing Conflict Management training to the principals and this highlights a point that teachers should be reminded of. When issues arise at school, an open and honest conversation with the principal should take place. If this is not possible or does not prove helpful, contact the office. We are here to support and advocate but often these conversations address concerns in the most effective ways.

We continue to have amazing work done by our many unit and joint board committees. Examples of these include our Breakfast with Santa event, OECTA ice skating (over the Christmas break) and other social events being planned. Public speaking, Scripture reading, and the GSA are all planning activities in the coming months. Our Retirement Committee is hard at work planning the event to honour our retirees and 25-year recipients. The office has been buzzing with recent meetings and gatherings. Please consider getting involved in your Association as this is a great opportunity to provide direction for the unit but also gather as colleagues and friends outside of school. Stay tuned for updates to the website that will highlight these many committees.

We want to recognize and acknowledge the incredible work you are doing for your students and in your role as teachers. We are here to support.

Be well,


Important Upcoming Dates

AGM 2023 Unit Delegation

Each year, delegations from the various OECTA units across Ontario gather as a democratic body at the Annual General Meeting to help chart the course for the Association in the coming year and beyond. Among the multitude of objectives at the meeting, your representatives from OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth will lend their voices and perspectives to the approval of the planning and budget cycle, and to the debate pertaining to by-laws, policies and procedures. Through participation in this democratic process, the voice of the membership is heard and heeded,  and the Association adjourns the meeting taking from it the will of the people who form our great union of professional educators - you

Representing you at the Annual General Meeting in 2023 is a collection of professional educators whose varied backgrounds and experiences will become a valuable part of the discourse giving shape to the decisions made at the meeting. A big thank you is extended to all members who advanced their names for consideration  in the delegate selection process. To those who were not selected this year, your engagement with OECTA and desire to serve your colleagues is admirable and valued. Next year, please consider setting forth your foot once again for consideration in the selection process for the AGM 2024 delegation.

The following members have been selected by the unit executive to represent the interests of the Hamilton-Wentworth unit at AGM 2023.  A big thank you to all for your service.

Lori Bell

Patricia Campos-Besu

Amanda Carbone

Joe Clinton

Alison Coyle

Jeannette DiLiberto

Leah Facchin

Larry Finocchi

Barb Forsyth

Lisa Marie Jean

Paul Kiely

Josh Mamer

Lora Merritt

Erin O'Neill

Rick Palkowski

Anthony Salvatore

Sherrie Savelli

Lori Schwarz

Michael Sciullintano-Viscoso

Josie Stumpo-Lutz

Mary Tomasevic

Jiju Varghese

John Vasapolli

Retirement & 25 Years Service Award


Warplane Heritage Museum

May 31, 2023

Celebration Event Initial Survey

To those members who have reached their silver jubilee with OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth (hiring year 1998), and to those who have made - or are still making - the difficult (or perhaps not) decision to retire this year, we want to acknowledge and honour each of you for your years of dedication and service to your students and to Catholic education in Ontario. The good people serving on the Retirement Celebration Committee have begun in earnest planning for the Class of 2023 event, and are excited to report to the membership that the Warplane Heritage Museum will once again serve as the venue for our celebration.

To assist with planning an event commensurate in class to that of its honourees, the Committee is seeking to survey the membership for those who are retiring and/or have reached the plateau of 25 years of service with OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth. Click on the link below to give us the heads-up that you have reached one, or both, of these  most remarkable career milestones. Please note that registration for the Retirement & 25 Years Service Award Celebration event will occur at a later date, and the information collected through this survey will serve to facilitate the earlier stages of planning for the Committee.

The top 5 things that should be on your ‘beginning of the year financial to-do’ list

It’s a new year—and while you might be sorting out whether or not an ‘old acquaintance should be forgotten’, there is a list of money-related things you shouldn’t forget if you want to start this year on the right financial foot.

From making the most of your TFSA and RESP contributions, to getting ahead of the RRSP and tax deadlines, check out the top 5 things that should be on your new year financial to-do list: 

Brought to you by Educators Financial Group.

Know Your Contract

Contacting Teachers While on Accommodation

Articles 3 and 4 of the central terms of the Collective Agreement provide OECTA members with access to paid sick leave when unfortunate circumstances arise.  When a member needs to access these leave provisions, they can rest assured knowing that their lives, already thrown into disarray through illness, will not be further burdened with the loss of a stable income source.  Access to paid sick leave allows members to focus on what is most important during recovery - themselves. 

For a review of the specifics pertaining to the Sick Leave/Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan, follow this link to the article in our November 2022 Newsletter.

When administering the Sick Leave/Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan, School Boards are guided by the following language taken from Articles 3.7 and 4.6:

Whose Role is it Anyway?

In a recent arbitration decision, the arbitrator confirmed the various roles of each party in the return to work process. 

Disability Management and You

For those members who are unfamiliar, Disability Managers are the folks downtown at Mulberry Street who see to the daily operations in the administration of the the Sick Leave/Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan. Their role is to seek and collect the information outlined above and to collaborate with the member and the Association in the return to process. 

Unfortunately, members accessing their leave provisions sometimes find themselves in conversations with Disability Managers  where information is exchanged which ought rightfully not to have been part of the conversation. To help members in understanding their rights, a recent arbitration decision between The Association and the TCDSB provides clarity on teachers' rights.  Below are some of the key highlights.    

A Disability Manager is permitted....

When a Disability Manager calls, keep in mind that  the Board is not permitted to discuss any of the medical aspects of the MC, nor are they permitted to discuss the content or substance of any return to work and accommodation matters without the Association being notified and afforded the right to participate.  

If a conversation with a Disability Manager turns in any of the above directions, members are encouraged to indicate that the manager's requests be put in writing and be forwarded via email. Indicate that you are happy to have a conversation with union representation present. Then, reach out to the office for assistance. 

The arbitrator made it abundantly clear in his decision; it is the content of the discussion that determines the Association’s right to participate...The Board is not entitled to a “pre-meeting meeting” with the teacher alone...the Association must be afforded the opportunity to participate in any discussions with teachers, by telephone or otherwise, in which the Board seeks to canvass return to work accommodation matters."

Track Your Mileage

The start of a new term marks a good time to refresh yourself on the three different travel allowance buckets available to you.  The first two, Articles 8.01 and 8.02, are defined in our contract. For most members, these are the ones to be most concerned with. The third bucket is reserved for travel incurred in the execution of union related business.

It is important that you keep an accurate and itemized list of all travel.  Your list should be separated according to the bucket through which the funds are dispersed. 

Article 8.01 - Board Approved Business

Article 8.02 - Extracurricular Allowance 

OECTA Committee Mileage

Earned Leave Plan 

As an ongoing reminder to members, leave-credits accrued through the Earned Leave Plan are expiring at the end of June.  Article 8 of the 2014-2017 contract provided members with access to partially paid and unpaid days as in incentive for an attendance record which was better than the average of their colleagues across the system. As of August 31, 2019, this plan ceased to have any force inasmuch as additional earned leave could no longer be accrued. Days previously earned, however, would remain in place to be accessed with conditions.  Members should be aware of the following with respect to their earned leave days...

Please refer to Article 8 of your contract for all the details related to accessing your earned leave.  Click on the link below to access the form to apply for any unused days.

Health and Safety Corner

Violence in Schools

In a recent report to the trustees of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, data was tabled which underscores something that educators across all school boards have become far too keenly aware of in recent years - violence is a growing problem in schools.  Since the return to in-person learning, the report notes that there has been a spike of attacks on educators where first aid or health care was required as a result, with Educational Assistants and and other youth-care workers bearing the brunt of the assaults. During the 2021-2022 school year, the data details 1,719 violent incidents, of which 139 were instances where staff required first aid, and a further 51 instances where some form of health care was given. This news, of course, comes as no surprise to our members. After all, they've witnessed first-hand the decline in real support for the students in their classrooms over the years. But, how do the numbers from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board stack up against its co-terminus board? 

Before diving too far into the numbers, some context...the values presented in the table represent a timeframe of September 2021 to June 2022. The Workplace Violence Reports fall under a duty to report under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Safe School Incident Report (SSIR) values include reports from EAs, Teachers, and any other Board staff who might have completed an SSIR as per their duty to report under the Education Act. Where a staff member was on the receiving end of a violent act, both reports should have been completed. Since the SSIR captures violence and other inappropriate behaviours, and because the OECTA office only receives Workplace Violence Reports made by OECTA members, there is an expected disconnect between the numbers. That gap, however, is unable to be reconciled after discussions with our CUPE counterparts. In short, the numbers just do not add up.

How is it that the HWDSB, while serving ~50 000 students, has 1719 reports of violence, 190 of which were serious enough to warrant health care, yet the HWCDSB, while serving ~30 000 students, has only a small fraction of reports meeting those criteria? Of the 380 SSIRs completed (capturing violence AND other inappropriate behaviours), a little over 200 are identifiable as violence against a staff member, and only 31 Workplace Violence Reports  were completed by OECTA members, 27 of which required a measure of health care. Without delving too far into the reasons behind the discrepancies, it can be accurately stated that further development in understanding of the requirements, purpose, and value of reporting violence remains a goal for the HWCDSB. Until a truer picture of the situation is ascertained, education workers will continue to experience violence as a routine part of their workplace. The Board, as employer, is unable to address a problem which, in the absence of data, does not exist. 

The OECTA-HW office continues to promote the completion of Safe Schools Incident Reports, a duty placed upon all employees of the Board when they become aware of a student(s) whose conduct meets the threshold for reporting as outlined in PPM 145, the Education Act, and the HWCDSB Code of Conduct. The office also encourages members to meet their Workplace Violence Reporting obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Using data collected through reporting, the Board, as the employer, is supported in meeting its duty to provide a safe and positive working and learning environment for the staff and students of the HWCDSB. 

OECTA Member Workplace Violence Reports vs

Safe School Incident Report Completion by School 

The Inclement Weather Code and You

Once again, on January 26, our collective prayers of supplication to  Our Lady of the Snows missed the mark, and the decision to keep schools open was made by the folks down at Mulberry Street. Meanwhile, over in the Hamilton co-terminus Board, every precaution reasonable in the circumstances was taken for the protection of their workers (OHSA 25(2)(h)), a wise move which acknowledges the significance of the decision made by Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services - when the roads are not safe for professionally trained school bus drivers, they certainly are not safe for other motorists, as well.

The above stated, it is important to bear in mind that there will never be consensus across the widely diverse range of perspectives on the issue of snow days. When schools are closed, the impacts are received differently by people across our city. Take, for instance, a worker for whom a snow day represents a pay cut through lost wage or additional childcare costs for the day. To others, the impact may be felt to a lesser degree. Fortunately, through use of the inclement weather provision in your collective agreement, there could be no impact at all. Judicious use of this provision is the expectation. Members are reminded that the inclement weather code is drawn from their personal 'bank of 5' allocation, and to ensure that there are enough credits in that bank before using the code.

Member Opportunities

Local Unit Opportunities

OECTA-HW Inaugural GSA Group Has Begun!

If you are interested in joining this committee or have any questions, you can reach out to:

As Catholic teachers, we are called to strive for more peace, respect, and compassion in our society. Rather than seeing difference and separation, we seek to embrace all that unites us as people.

Following the example set by OECTA Provincial, OECTA Hamilton Wentworth has begun its own 2SLGBTQ+ and Allies GSA Committee. A committee who will seek to support all our colleagues, gaystraight or otherwise.

We are striving to make our communities and schools as safe and welcoming as possible for students, teachers, and staff who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. OECTA PROVINCIAL has previously hosted the Reach Every Student – Know Their Story conference, about engaging and serving marginalized 2SLGBTQ+ students. They have a longstanding relationship with  Egale Canada Human Rights Trust , particularly their research aimed at understanding the issues faced by 2SLGBTQ+ students and teachers. If you click the word students or teachers you will be lead to separate reports that may help provide better understanding of the issues faced.

The goal in the coming months is to hold some informal events for all teachers to attend where you can discuss issues you may be facing in your classroom or other places in a safe and inclusive environment.

Looking Forward to Working Together!

Joshua Czerniga, Committee Chair

Rick Palkowski, Executive Liaison and Ally

OECTA-HW Paint Night

The social committee is excited to be planning a new event this year. Come and join us for an OECTA-HW Paint Night on Friday February 24th, with artist, Priti Mistry, guiding your creative energy in the creation of your own masterpiece.

Check your personal email soon for more details (including location, cost, selected painting, registration, and more.

Visit the Artist's Website

Artist: Priti Mistry

Provincial Association Opportunities

Stolen Lives:  The Indigenous Peoples of Canada

and the Indian Residential Schools

Do you teach about residential schools to students in Grades 6 – 12? This course may be of interest to you. 

Facing History and Ourselves has created this course, which enables participants to explore the history of Canada’s Residential Schools through primary source texts and survivors’ personal testimonies to better understand the devastating history and long-lasting impact on former students, their families, and entire Indigenous communities. Participants will also look at the historical roots and the legacies that followed while examining the apologies given by government and churches, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the charge of genocide. All these elements will be used to help participants connect this history to their own lives and the choices they make.

In this interactive, facilitated online course, participants join a virtual community to explore the history and legacies of Canada’s Residential Schools, using primary source texts, survivors’ personal testimonies and live online learning classes that will equip educators to better understand the devastating history and the long-lasting impact of the Indian Residential School system, as well as Indigenous communities’ historic and contemporary fight for a promised education.

When: February 6 – April 12, 2023. The course will span six weeks with new sessions each week.

Cost: This course is $150. OECTA will provide a $100 subsidy for up to 40 applicants. In order to be eligible for the subsidy, you must apply separately from your course registration below. Please note: once the subsidies have been exhausted the link will no longer be available. You will still be welcome to register for the course.

Travel to Italy for Religious Education

Bion Giorno!

What better way to take your Religious Education courses than on the warm and sunny Amalfi Coast in Italy? OECTA is delighted to announce that the summer 2023 Religious Education AQ Italy trip has reached critical volume and is officially ON. Due to high demand, we have expanded registration, so don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!

Led by OECTA’s experienced Religious Education AQ Instructors and Faith Animators, this trip is a one-of-a-kind cultural experience, rooted in our rich Catholic faith, designed for Catholic teachers.

Dates of Travel

July 6-16, 2023

To indicate your interest in an information session, please email

For itinerary and cost click on this link:

If you have any questions concerning the course, please email the Italy course instructor at

From the Provincial Association

Professional Advice

The Association helps members manage a range of career-related events and issues, including performance appraisals, general and career counselling, professional ethics, interpersonal disputes, and personal crises. 

A variety of resources have been created to assist you in navigating some of the issues that you may encounter in your professional career.

If you’re experiencing difficulty in your professional life, or if personal problems are affecting your work, you can contact staff in the Counselling and Member Services department at the OECTA Provincial Office for advice or guidance.  

All calls are kept confidential.

Contact our Counselling and Member Services department or the daily duty officer for assistance, at 




Collective Bargaining Updates

Throughout the collective bargaining process, the Association provides regular email updates to members.  To ensure that you are receiving all updates in a timely manner, please update your personal email address today. Click on the button above to begin.

OECTA  WebExperiences

To assist members develop professionally, the Association has developed WebExperiences covering a wide range of topics and issues. A WebExperience is a an engaging approach to professional development which are delivered using live and interactive online sessions designed by teachers for teachers

Upcoming WebExperiences

Click on a Date to Register

Getting Started with a Systematic and Explicit Early Reading Instruction in Kindergarten and Grade One

Kindergarten & Grade 1

Running an Effective Phonics Program

Grades 1 & 2

Sounds and Words: How we can support early reading

Kindergarten to Grade 2

Books, Books, Books: El Que Lee Mucho, y anda Mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho”, -- “He who reads a lot and walks a lot, sees a lot and knows a lot.” Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Kindergarten to Grade 2

Oral Language Development in Literacy Rich Spaces

Kindergarten to Grade 2

Office Hours Presentations

Start the new year off right with ways to save on your home and auto insurance

The price you pay for insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, so how can you get the best value for your money? Here are 10 ways you may be eligible to save on your home and auto insurance and start your new year off right.