Around OECTA

September 2022

Welcome Back, OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth!

Hello OECTA members.

We want to congratulate you on navigating what has been a rocky start to the new school year. As usual, you have “made it work” and created a warm and welcoming place for your students and established the foundation for a positive and productive school year. 

You are to be commended. 

Amidst miscommunication and, at times, a lack of communication from the board, you have dealt with reorganisations, emails going out on Holiday Mondays, and an overall lack of support for many. We have heard you and are having those conversations with the board. The physical and mental toll these have on teachers is recognized. Combine this with the rhetoric we hear from the Ministry which touts supports for classrooms while stripping funding, and it’s a recipe for despair. With their laughably titled, “Ontario’s Plan to Catch-Up”, the Minister of Education has presented the usual mix of rushed curriculum with no support, promises of money which never comes, and the latest, tutoring support which amounts to a $370 million dollar bribe for parents, which doesn’t begin to address the learning gaps.

We must stay focussed, we must stay strong. Now, more than ever, a sense of togetherness and support is needed as an association, especially with so many of our members struggling. We have to be ok with letting things go, and avoid the temptation to “shoulder more” or “pick up the slack” when things are not getting done. To let go of the “teacher guilt” and recognize this is not a result of anger or some sort of silent protest, but rather, a need for mental wellness and mental health. 

Continue to do what you do. Know that we are here to help and support. 

Be well.


To All the Teachers of the World, Thank You.

Important Upcoming Dates

Municipal and Trustee Elections

With no indication the political turmoil we are seeing at the provincial level will abate anytime soon, it will be more important than ever to elect reasonable, effective municipal representatives – particularly at the trustee level. We know that trustee elections are among the lowest for voter participation. Educating yourself about local issues, candidates, and encouraging your friends/families to vote, is imperative. It can make the difference between electing a trustee who can work effectively with stakeholders and one who brings their own agenda to the table. Check to see if you are registered to vote in your area if you do not receive your registration card or to view past results and registered candidates.

Local Unit Issues

Missed Planning Time Bank

Planning time provisions in our collective agreement state that we will receive a defined amount of planning preparation and planning time per week.  Following the situation with OT coverage last year these past two school years, we cannot stress enough the importance of banking your missed time.  Begin tracking now and remain diligent in recording your missed time throughout the year.  It is each teacher's responsibility to bank their missed time.

According to the Article X: 10.01 in our collective agreement; 

A Teacher who misses his/her preparation and planning time shall record the number of minutes on each occasion in the “Missed Planning and Preparation Time Binder” found in the main office of each school. 

Our concern, at this point, is the need for accountability. With some schools moving to electronic missed planning time books, the question of tracking and transparency is very real. With a hard, paper copy in the main office there is more accountability. The current, electronic copy can be printed out and placed in a binder and we would like to see hard, paper copies moving forward.

Article 10.01 Preparation and Planning Time - Key Elements

Please note that the AIT schedule should shift on weeks with a  PA day or holiday to prevent the same teachers from consistently losing their weekly AIT period..

If you have questions about planning and preparation time, please reach out to the office for assistance.

HWCDSB Multi-Factor Authentication

HWCDSB teacher, shown above, completing the MFA process.

The introduction of increased security standards within the HWCDSB has been the source of daily agitation for many of our members.  On top of the other interruptions to your flow, you now find yourself having to enter a security code delivered to your phone several times per day.  While we have heard and can certainly empathize with our members'  lamentations, the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. As a remedy to help allay your frustrations, we are recommending members to apply for a key fob by following the process outlined in Memorandum #385 A00.

**Edit** It has come to our attention that the l;ink in the memo not longer works. As a  potential workaround, a member at the General Meeting mentioned that they had applied for, and obtained, a fob by submitting a ticket to the Help Desk.

Staff Luncheon Winners

Congratulations to the staff at St. Mark and St. Teresa of Calcutta for having the highest staff attendance (by percentage) at the OECTA-HW Unit General Meeting which was held on September 28. A luncheon will be provided to each staff in the near future. Details will be shared with each staff as they become available.

Our next general meeting is on November 30. A similar prize will exist for the staff with the highest turnout. Hope to see you then.

Professional Development Funds

As part of the OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth 2022-2023 budget, $22 000 has been set aside to assist members with costs associated with professional development opportunities such as AQ courses, conferences, and workshops. To take advantage of this opportunity, please complete the application form linked below.  

Please Note:

Track Your Mileage

At the start of each year it is a good idea 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

Is water damage covered by car insurance?

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With floods claiming the top spot for Canada’s most frequent natural hazard, and average annual precipitation increasing nationwide, many Canadian car owners are wondering how far their coverage extends when it comes to protecting their vehicles from water damage. 

Whether or not your vehicle is covered for water-related damage depends on your insurance policy and how the damage occurred. 


Know Your Contract

Check Your Grid Placement

At the start of each school year, the folks down at the Mulberry department are faced with a tsunami of records which need updating before operations begin again in September.  This task can be fraught with small mistakes which may lead to large headaches for you down the road.  Over the years, quite a few members have discovered that they are being paid incorrectly, or that the board inappropriately accounted for their absences in the previous school year.  These mistakes can be fixed, so it would be very much in your interest to take 5 minutes of your time to ensure that all records are accurate.

As you are aware, we are paid on a grid which takes into account years of service and qualifications. If you are a young teacher who is still moving through the grid, you should see your work from last year reflected in your grid placement this year. Please note that a teacher may be moved through the grid using a "half-step" for any half-years of experience.  Please refer to the collective agreement for the details pertaining to half-steps.

Additional Qualifications and Grid Movement

Many of our members use their summer vacations to upgrade their credentials. In some instances, completion of a course may lead to a category change on the pay grid. Please note that the school board will not automatically adjust your placement on the grid.  Teachers are responsible for submitting a record of the course completion to the Qualification Evaluation Council of Ontario.  The teacher must then provide notice of a category change to the board before adjustments are made. 


5.01 a) The payment of Teachers' salaries will be 1/26th of the annual salary.  

Payment will commence on the first Thursday of the school year and  continue at two-week intervals. The unpaid balance will be paid on the last teaching day of June or within two (2) weeks of leaving the employ of the Board, whichever is the earlier.

If the Teacher does not commence duties on the first day of the school year, the bi-weekly payment will be calculated by dividing the total salary that will be earned by the number of pay periods to the end of August, as follows:

Grid salary/Number of legal school days = Daily rate of pay

Daily rate of pay  x  Number of days remaining in school year = Total salary

Total salary/Number of pay periods remaining in school year =  Bi-weekly payment

If a Teacher terminates employment prior to the end of the school year, the Teacher will receive the remainder of the salary earned to the date of termination on the next following pay date.

Daily Rate for Occasional Teachers

For our members who are currently working in a daily occasional role, the daily rate for the 2022/2023 school year is $248.48.

Absence Allocation and Balances

Please ensure that the board has accurately accounted for your absences last year. Errors have been known to happen, and they are much easier to resolve earlier on in the school year. As a reminder, your top-up days this year are equal to  your remaining Personal Illness balance from last year. Each top-up day equates to 10 days paid at 100% while accessing the Short Term Leave and Disability Plan (bank of 120 days), so be certain that your top-up days are accurately reflected.  

Your Pay and the Expiry of the Contract

As you know, as of August 30, 2022 the contract expired and OECTA is in the process of negotiating a new contract. Despite this, you should still move on the grid and gain a year of experience for this past year. If you are already at A4 Max, since you are at the top of the grid, your pay will remain the same since increases only occur if an increase is negotiated in a new contract. Once a new contract is negotiated and signed, any pay increases would be paid retroactive to the start of the new contract.

This is also a reminder that permanent teachers while on maternity/parental leave still move on the grid as if they are at work. If an extended, unpaid, leave is taken this does not translate to movement on the grid. Eg. A teacher who takes an extended 2-year leave who opted for 12-month EI, will gain a year experience on the pay grid. 

It is always a good idea to check ESS and ensure you are being paid at the correct step and years of experience.

How to Check Your Pay and Absence Allocations

Step 1:  Log into

Step 2:  Select "Pay" or "Absences" from the menu.

Step 3:  Multiply your Gross Pay by 26. Check for alignment with grid.

Step 4Verify absence balances correctly reflect your absence record.

Note: This year's STLD Top-Up day allocation is equal to last year's remaining Personal Illness balance.

Annual Learning Plans

Members are reminded that they must maintain an Annual Learning Plan in accordance with Article 6.3.1 of the Central Terms of the collective agreement.

"The Annual Learning Plan (ALP) is a component of the performance appraisal framework for experienced teachers. Experienced teachers must complete/update their ALP in accordance with Ministry and regulatory requirements. The ALP is teacher-authored and directed and is developed in a consultative and collaborative manner with the principal, or designate."

To assist members with writing and maintaining their Annual Learning Plans, your Association has created a guide which outlines the three main components to each plan: professional growth objectives; proposed action plan; and timelines for achieving those objectives.  

Sample Annual Learning Plan

Health and Safety Corner

I Have Contracted COVID. What Now?

If the misfortune of a COVID case befalls you, the Board's expectation is that you will register your absence in the SmartFind system using the code for Personal Illness. As per Memorandum 023 - H02, the Quarantine Code has been discontinued this school year, and, if you have come into close contact with a COVID+ individual, there is no need to self-isolate.  Continue to self- monitor for symptoms, but you should wear a mask for 10 days when in public. Masks and Rapid Antigen Testing kits will be available at your workplace upon a request put to your principal or building/site supervisor. 

"Darlin' you gotta let me know....should I stay or should I go?' 

You should stay home until all of the following apply to you:

For 10 days after your symptoms started:


Summary of Updated COVID Protocols.

Updated COVID Guidance

Can I Still Make a WSIB Claim For COVID?

When a worker believes that they have contracted COVID-19 while in the course of their duties, they have the right to file a claim with the WSIB. A reasonable connection to the workplace will be determined through the WSIB adjudication process. Please reach out to Paul Kiely ( for assistance with a claim. 

In Harm's Way - Violence in Ontario Schools

Read the Summary Report

Read the Full Report

Violence Reporting

Several reports of violence have already been made to the Board this year, which is both encouraging and unnerving all at once. On the one hand, reporting violence is a crucial first step toward securing the necessary supports to not only protect workers, but also to build communities which can meet the complex needs of the students in our classrooms. It is encouraging to see that reporting is occurring. On the other hand, an increase in reporting lends credence to the startling findings of a report on violence in Ontario schools (In Harm's Way) - the reports we see are just the tip of the iceberg!

“I just want to say that schools are becoming zones of disrespect and violence. I have worked for 30 years. Kids have always had problems, but they didn't hurt their teachers.” 

As the school year progresses, members are encouraged to continue reporting violent incidents when they occur.  Not only does the data collected drive evidence-based decision making in response to violence, but reporting is also a professional duty of members. Please review the following link for an overview of reporting requirements.

Member Opportunities

Local Unit Opportunities

Committee Call-Outs

The OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth unit is seeking members who are interested in serving others through involvement on a local committee.  Working on a committee is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other members from across the system on worthwhile endeavors for others.  You'll learn new skills, develop your networks, and possibly even make a new friend or two! Complete the form to express your interest.  Your contact information will be forwarded to the committee chair.  

Committees Needing Members

Provincial Association Opportunities

OECTA Office Hours Live

Office Hours Live is an opportunity for teachers to connect online with an experienced teacher leader about a particular topic. It is an opportunity to ask questions about practice and pedagogy, get advice, share teaching tips and network with other teachers. Office Hours Live provides a safe space for teachers to ask questions about topics that matter most to them. 

Got questions? We've got answers! Check out our frequently asked questions for more information about Office Hours LIVE.

'In Our Words' Series

In this new six-part series we will explore the video: In Our Words created by the First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario. The In Our Words video explains how the dispossession of land from Indigenous Peoples took place throughout what is now called Canada, told through the personal narratives of Oneida and Anishinaabek Elders and recognized Knowledge Holders. (It is important to note that these voices do not reflect all Indigenous Peoples. Communities throughout Ontario have been impacted in different ways throughout the process of colonization.)

Intended Audience - Content is applicable for all K-12 teachers. Curriculum connections will be focused for Grades 7 – 12.

Session Dates and Topics

PLEASE NOTE:  For an optimal experience, participants are encouraged to participate in all six sessions. There is no advanced preparation required for participation however participants may choose to preview the video in advance. The video will be shared with registrants in advance, and the applicable clip will be shown at the beginning of each session.

Register for a Mini-Course or Join a Book Club

OECTA Mini-Courses

What is a Mini-Course?

We are so glad you asked! They are short, one-month, online courses, requiring about 25 hours of time with a manageable workload that you complete on a schedule that works best for your busy life. Each Mini-Course costs only $50.

Offered on a variety of topics, they are led by fully qualified instructors and participants will get a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course. Improve your quality of life in the classroom and try one!

Spaces are limited and pre-registration for each course is required. There is a two (2) Mini-Course limit per registrant.

Upcoming Mini-Courses

Courses Schedule: November 1-25, 2022

Registration: Opens September 2, 2022.

Got Questions? Read the Mini-Course FAQ.

Winter 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 Winter Book Club. This winter’s line-up includes:

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez  Overview

BOOK LAUNCH MEETING - Thursday December 1, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. 

BOOK TALK GROUPS - Thursday January 12, 2023 - 7:00 p.m.


How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi  Overview

BOOK LAUNCH MEETING - Wednesday November 30, 2022 - 7:00 p.m.

BOOK TALK GROUPS - Wednesday January 11, 2023 - 7:00 p.m.


Securing what matters – 4 security tips to make your car theft proof

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You may be thinking that your new vehicle is already equipped with the latest security features  – and that might be the case – but in reality a lot of basic features aren’t deterring criminals from accessing your car. With rising incidents of theft, especially to newer vehicles, have you wondered if your security was compromised? Here are 4 security tips to make your car more secure against theft.