In This Issue
From Your Local Unit
Hello and Merry Christmas.
We hope you are getting yourselves ready for a well deserved break and enjoying your bonus day, yay snow. It has been an interesting first few months to school year 2022-2023. We continue to have your concerns at the top of our “to-do list” everyday.
We are constantly pushing back on attendance management, staff shortages, planning time issues, and violence in schools. Having to repeatedly raise the same issues with the board in meetings is frustrating but continues daily.
The office appreciates the feedback we receive from teachers as this helps inform our advocacy. We also appreciate those that have attended general meetings, act as Association and Health and Safety reps, sit on unit committees, and volunteer their time beyond their classroom responsibilities. Those that are able to devote what little time they have beyond their massive workload for their students and teacher colleagues are recognized and thanked.
You are reminded of the board’s Right to Disconnect policy which allows employees to forgo reading emails, communicating with administration, or crafting report card comments during your off hours which extend until January 9th. This disconnecting allows for a recharge and allows all of you to enjoy your time with family, friends, hobbies, interests, or a quiet afternoon on your own.
We would like to take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to all of you during this holiday season and hope you enjoy your Christmas Break.
Important Upcoming Dates
Each year, at the March Break, local unit delegates gather en masse to participate in the democratic functions which give direction and shape to the larger Association. Across the three days of the meeting, resolutions are debated and voted upon, elections are conducted, reports are presented, awards are announced, and more.
The time has come again to experience OECTA at the next level. OECTA’s Annual General Meeting is taking place in Toronto March 10-13, 2023. This is an (expense-paid) opportunity to participate in your Association’s business as a voting member of the delegation representing our Hamilton-Wentworth Unit.
This opportunity is open to all permanent and occasional teachers of OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth. The selection process, as determined by the unit by-laws, gives consideration first to unit executive members, then to school association representatives, local committee members, and finally, members at large.
To be included in the selection process, please ensure that your application is submitted by Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 4pm. If you have any questions about the AGM, please contact the office at 905-574-6483.
OCT Fee Increase
On December 9, the Ontario College of Teachers announced to its members an inflationary increase to licence fees predicated upon a need to 'keep up with the times' financially. Completely understandable. Inflation is out of control. Making ends meet is tougher these days, and we all could do with a healthy bump to our finances to reflect the ever increasing cost of living. To do it on the backs of teachers, whose wages have fallen behind inflation for the past decade, is remarkably tone-deaf. Your fee to teach in 2023 is now $200. This is a 17.6% increase over last year! Teachers will surely be receiving a 17.6% bump to their wages in 2023, right? Members are not advised to hold their breath on that one.
In response to this outrageous and unnecessary cash grab, the OECTA-HW office organized an email advocacy campaign to tell the OCT that their fee increase is out of touch with the realities faced by teachers in Ontario. Not only do teachers receive very little in return for their yearly fees, the balance of political power on the body's governing council rests not with the members of the profession. How outlandish! This effectively distills the OCT down to little more than a regulatory body; to call it a professional one, most certainly, would be a misnomer of terms. The fee increase becomes even more offensive once viewed through that lens, particularly when the governing structure of the OCT is so uniquely situated as a standout among other professional bodies (see table for council structure comparison).
To date, around 300 OECTA-HW members have added their voice to our collective message to the College - to reverse the fee increase and find better, more cost-effective ways to carry out their mandate. If you have not shared your perspective with the OCT, consider doing so today. It's as easy as click-click. Click the button below to get started.
🎶 One of These Things is Not Like the Other 🎶
Health and Safety Corner
SSIR Completion Updates
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. Presentations were given at several schools to highlight the importance of formally reporting inappropriate student actions to the Board who, as the employer, has a duty to provide a safe and positive working and learning environment for the staff and students of the HWCDSB. Commonly heard during our visits to schools was a continued general unawareness of the existence of the form and of the duty to complete it. Clearly, the Board's approach to training (self-directed Powerpoint modules) is not registering with the workers of the HWCDSB. To schedule a school visit with the OECTA-HW office staff, please reach out to arrange a suitable time.
"School boards must provide supports for all students who are affected by serious student incidents and all inappropriate behaviour, and for those who engage in these types of incidents, to assist them in developing healthy relationships, making choices that support continuing their learning, and achieving success."
In October, a 72% increase in the completion of the SSIR was noted. November, meanwhile, saw a slight statistically insignificant decrease in reporting. Members are encouraged to continue to meet their duty to report as the data collected provides an important foundation upon which the case for additional support for your students can be built. Should reporting be occurring and progress is not being made with support for your students, then please reach out to the OECTA-HW office to consult on next steps.
Starling Minds Mental Health Program
The Association and the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) have partnered to provide members with Starling Minds Mental Fitness, a 24/7, confidential digital self-guided program for stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression, available anytime and anywhere.
Resisting Rust: How to Protect Your Vehicle From Rust Damage
While road salt helps drivers get safely from one place to the next by keeping streets clear of ice and snow, repeated exposure can leave your vehicle vulnerable to rust. If not correctly taken care of, rust can cause significant damage to your vehicle and pose serious safety risks. Here are 5 things you can do to protect your vehicle from rust damage this winter.
Read more at www.otip.com/article156.
Know Your Contract
Although we hope to not have to use these provisional days in our collective agreement, we are often contacted about entitlements related to bereavement leaves. We have the following provisions;
A Teacher is entitled to a leave with pay and no deduction of sick leave to a maximum of 5 working days within 7 calendar days for the purpose of attending or arranging a funeral for immediate family. This shall be defined as spouse, parent, child, sibling, or guardian.
A teacher is entitled to a leave with pay and no deduction of sick leave to a maximum of 3 working days for the purpose of attending or arranging a funeral for a father-in-law, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent or grandchild.
A leave of absence for a full or partial day with pay and no deduction of sick leave may be granted for the purpose of attending the funeral of a person other than those listed above. Requests for such leave should be submitted to the Director for approval at least one day in advance.
OT Collective Agreement
Article 4.01 states, “If an Occasional Teacher reports for an assignment and the assignment is not available, the Occasional Teacher shall be guaranteed pay for the duration of the call-out and may be assigned duties for such period.” What this means is that if, as an OT, you report to a call-out that is cancelled or changed, you will be guaranteed pay for the call-our but as well, you can be reassigned duties at the school.
Also, 4.02 (b) states, “If an Occasional Teacher reports for an assignment and the assignment is not available due to the school having been declared closed due to inclement weather, the OT shall receive pay for one-half day.” This is provided you have left for your call-out prior to the school closure being declared and someone at the site is there to verify that you arrived.
If in doubt, contact the office.
Local Unit Opportunities
OECTA-HW Social Skating Event
On Friday, January 6, the social committee will be hosting the first ever OECTA-HW Social Skate at Dofasco Park. Members and their families are invited to join us for a bit of post-holiday exercise, and an opportunity to rekindle connections with colleagues.
Space at this event is limited to 100 skaters per session, of which there are two. Registrations will be managed virtually, and tickets will be issued for entrance to the event. The cost of admission is a 'what-feels-right' donation, with proceeds after expenses for the event going to De Mazenod Door Outreach in Hamilton.
Session A - 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Flooding of the Rink - 2:00pm - 2:15pm
Session B - 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Participation in this event is subject to acceptance of the OPHEA guidelines for ice skating which will be presented to members during the registration process. A CSA approved hockey helmet is required for all children aged 16 years and younger, and a helmet is strongly suggested for all other participants.
"But, I don't have any skates and/or a helmet..."
OECTA-HW Skating Equipment Swap
In an effort to help eliminate barriers to the quintessential Canadian winter experience, we are proud to offer an online equipment swap service to our members. Please be aware that the swap is offered only as a way to connect those in need of equipment with those who can help out. A big , preemptive thank you to those who graciously offer the use of their spare equipment for others to borrow. A community is built through the efforts of the many.
Users of the swap are responsible for the exchange and return of borrowed equipment. Additionally, OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss, or theft of equipment, nor for any injuries sustained while using equipment borrowed through this swap.
Add Your Spare Equipment to the Swap
Do you have extra skates and/or helmets lying around collecting dust in your basement or garage? Consider making some (or all) of it available for your colleagues to borrow for the OECTA-HW Social Skating event. Each piece of equipment added to the swap is given a unique identification for tracking purposes to help ensure the safe return of your equipment.
Looking For Some Pointers?
You don't need to be the greatest of skaters to participate in the OECTA-HW Social Skate. Everyone is welcome - beginners, pros, and everything in between. For members with a bit of reluctance, perhaps picking up a few tips from Coach Jeremy will help with building enough confidence to strap on the blades. Jeremy breaks down the basic skills of skating in easy to follow videos and gives you drills you can practise to develop your abilities. Give them a watch and then join us on the ice on January 6.
Breakfast With Santa
After a 2 year pause, OECTA-HW was excited to have the return of our 11th Annual Breakfast with Santa event at Michelangelo's on Saturday December 17th, 2022. It was lovely to see the Christmas spirit in the children of our hard working teachers and to reconnect with other members at our first social event of this school year. Thank you to Walter Luciani (retired teacher) for being our Santa. Thank you to Pegasus (Future Stars) for the generous donation of the many digital family photos. Photos will be emailed to families this week. A special thank you to all the committee members too - Lori Bell, Lisa Fernandes, Barbara Forsyth, Paul Kiely, Josh Mamer, Erin O'Neill, Anna Pyz, Sherrie Savelli, and Anthony Salvatore. We look forward to planning and celebrating this event again next December 2023.
Provincial Association Opportunities
Travel to Italy for Religious Education Part 1,2,3 or Specialist
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.
OECTA’s partner, Georgia Hardy Tours, will be hosting virtual sales presentations throughout December and January. The first will be held on December 12th at 7:30pm!
Dates of Travel: July 6-16, 2023
To indicate your interest in an information session, please email email@example.com.
For itinerary and cost click on this link: https://wetu.com/Itinerary/Landing/78E0BA3F-3FDB-470A-B704-60ACCB971A47.
If you have any questions concerning the course, please email the Italy course instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Provincial Association
Christmas Message From OECTA President, Barb Dobrowolski
Collective Bargaining Updates
On December 5, 13, and 20, the OECTA Provincial Bargaining Team (PBT) met with representatives of the Government of Ontario (Crown) and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), to continue negotiations for the renewal of the central terms of our collective agreement.
As always, the PBT came to the December negotiating sessions ready to bargain to achieve the best for the students you serve, recognizing that Catholic teachers’ working conditions are your students’ learning conditions. Unfortunately, the Crown and OCSTA have not done the same, and, as a result, there has been very little in the way of progress in the last few bargaining sessions.
The PBT took the opportunity to remind OCSTA and the Crown that Catholic teachers, with your qualifications and experience, know best what students need to succeed. The PBT further reiterated the importance of meaningful collaboration between the government, school boards, and educators, to realize the best possible learning and working conditions in our schools, calling on OCSTA and the Crown to take the steps necessary to ensure productive discussions at our upcoming tentative bargaining dates in the new year.
The following tentative dates have been set to continue discussions:
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.
Courses Schedule: January 23 to February 17
Registration: Opens December 2 - January 3
Got Questions? Read the Mini-Course FAQ or email email@example.com
Cost: $50 per course
Catholic Teachers Help Feed Ontario
This may be one of the most difficult Christmas seasons for individuals and families in need in decades – and food bank usage is skyrocketing, as families face record-high prices.
As Catholic teachers, let’s come together to do what we can to help. Make a donation at catholicteachers.ca/charity, with the proceeds going to Feed Ontario and the food banks and hunger-relief organizations it supports province-wide.
Every 10 seconds someone visits a food bank in Ontario. Your donation will help ensure that food is waiting for them.
It's a Win-Win! Donate Today!
We still have two more draws for amazing prizes. The winners of our next draw for the prizes listed below will be announced by Member Update on Friday, December 23.
Next Week's Draw
Beats by Dre Headphones
iTunes gift card ($200)
Amazon.ca gift card ($200)
Indigo gift card ($200)
Everyone who donates is eligible to win a prize each draw! The final draw will be the week of January 2.
To enter the contest, include your name and unit name in the text field labelled, "Add a Message of Support." That’s it! Your name will automatically be entered into the draw and you will be eligible to win one of the prizes!
Past Prize Winners
Sabrina, Toronto Secondary (Xbox Series X console)
Krista, Windsor-Essex Elementary ($200 Indigo gift card)
Miriam, Eastern Ontario ($200 Cineplex gift card)
Jeremy, Dufferin-Peel Elementary ($200 iTunes gift card)
Christine, Windsor-Essex (iPad, 10th generation)
John, Dufferin-Peel Elementary ($200 Ultimate Dinning gift card)
Gabriel, Hamilton Elementary ($200 Amazon gift card)
Michelle, Dufferin-Peel Elementary ($200 Home Depot gift card)