Around OECTA

January 2024

From Your Local Unit

President's Message

Hello Teachers of Hamilton-Wentworth.

We hope you are making your way through the dark days of the year and we’ve made it to the half-way point. A beautiful spring is just around the corner. That’s what I keep telling myself.

Hopefully, the report card season came and went with minimal problems. There didn’t seem to be major issues that were brought to the office. Aspen continues to lack features that would make it more practical and user friendly. We will continue to highlight these deficiencies and encourage the board to raise them with the vendor.

The next central collective bargaining dates have been set for the end of February. It is the first time where 3 consecutive days have been scheduled. This may represent a commitment by the Government and the Trustees’ Association to move towards an agreement. It should be pointed out that although it has been 18 months since negotiations began, bargaining has only occurred for less than 4 months due to the obstinance of the Crown and OCSTA. 

The commitment and time given by the provincial bargaining team has been productive even though to some, it may not seem. There has been a focussed and unwavering effort towards a negotiated agreement and I want to acknowledge this.

The email sent on January 10th spoke to issues involving the College of Teachers. Another concern that has bubbled up has been with SSIR reporting and complaints to the college. 

As mentioned, unfortunately anyone can lodge a complaint to the college about anything. When members are contacted by the college regarding complaints, the Association will often ask (if appropriate) whether SSIR reporting has been completed. Complete documentation is often the difference between a variety of possible outcomes. SSIR reporting ensures the employer has been included in the documentation of incidences and highlights that teachers have completed their legal requirements. When in doubt, contact the office.

The office has begun preparations for AGM 2024. The executive committee approved the delegates to the AGM in Toronto for March 8-11, 2024. At the AGM, the delegates will be conducting and voting on the business of the Association. Resolutions put forth by many groups will be debated and decided and these resolutions will continue to guide the Association in the future. Here is the link to the proposed resolutions that will be discussed at this year’s meeting. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular resolution or group of resolutions, please contact the office.

Please continue the great work that you do as teachers for your students and colleagues. Continue to get involved with the extras that bring you joy.

Continue to feel welcome to contact the office should you have any concerns or questions.

Be well.


Important Upcoming Dates

AGM Delegation

Each year, delegates from OECTA units across Ontario assemble at the Annual General Meeting, a democratic body shaping the course for the Association. The meeting's objectives include approving the planning and budget cycle and debating by-laws, policies, and procedures. Representatives from OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth contribute their voices and perspectives, ensuring that the decisions made reflect the will of our membership.

In March, a diverse group of professional educators from Hamilton-Wentworth will represent you at the Annual General Meeting in Toronto. Their varied backgrounds and experiences will surely enrich the discourse. A heartfelt thank you to all members who put forth their names for consideration in the delegate selection process. To those not selected this year, your engagement with OECTA is admirable. We encourage you to consider reapplying for the AGM 2025 delegation next year. 

The unit executive has selected the following members to represent the Hamilton-Wentworth unit at AGM 2024. We extend our sincere thanks to all for your dedicated service.

Marcia Belgrave

Lori Bell

Gianna Burgio

Mark Calcagni

Patricia Campos-Besu

Joe Clinton

Alison Coyle

Jeannette DiLiberto

Leah Facchin

Larry Finocchi

Diane Giornofelice-Boyd

Stephen Hume

Joshua Mamer

Lia Manganiello

Clarerose Mascarenhas

Lora Merritt

Anthony Salvatore

Sherrie Savelli

Allison Smith

Diane Spadano

Giuseppina Stumpo-Lutz

Margherita Susi

John Vasapolli

Ontario Federation of Labour Rally

After 6 years of Ford's For the People governance, what's become painfully clear to many struggling Ontarians is that "the People" did not include them, and the once venerable public intuitions they relied upon are becoming shells of their former selves - a public trust sacrificed in the name of privatization, lost for future generations. Enough is enough!  It is time to stand against the cronyism and corruption of the Ford government. Here's how you can get involved.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario Policy convention is taking place at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre on the weekend of February 3. To have the voice of the People of Ontario heard (albeit from the street outside the Convention Centre, dress warmly), the Ontario Federation of Labour is organizing a rally against Ford's agenda of privatization and profit for his people, his donors and powerful corporations.

Whether it be the failure to properly fund education; the staffing crisis in health care; the acceleration of privatization plans; the plan to move Service Ontario locations into multinational private corporate outlets; replacing unionized workers with non-unionized workers; the Greenbelt Scandal; or whatever other Ford boondoggle that floats your fancy, as a collective we, the people, can have our voices heard. 

Join us on February 3 in Niagara Falls.  Please see the details below.


Niagara Falls Convention Centre

6815 Stanley Avenue

Niagara Falls, ON

L2G 3Y9


February 03, 2024 

12:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Visit the OFL website to learn more and to get involved. Through the power of many, we can build a better future for everyone.

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Insurance built for all members of the education community. Get personalized service, exclusive discounts on car and home insurance, and a $20 gift card of your choice when you get a quote! 

Learn more: #OTIPUpdate

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

Your OTPP and You

Whether wet behind the ears, or a seasoned veteran in teaching, learning about your Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan today can help you plan for your tomorrow.  Valued at over $250 Billion CAD and growing, your pension remains fully funded having generated returns of 9.4% since inception - your OTPP is a secure asset upon which you can build the retirement of your dreams.  

As a defined benefit pension, the OTPP provides predictability in planning, ensuring that you will have a reliable and consistent source of income in your golden years.  What's more?  Grounded in socially responsible investment practices, your Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is investing in a future worth living. 

Visit to learn more about how your OTPP is investing to make a mark.

The Big Decision

Ask any retired teacher, and they will tell you that the big day snuck up on them, and the decision to take the leap was not made without some trepidation and careful consideration.  You're teaching in your first gig, working furiously just to keep your head above water; retirement is the last thing on your mind. You've got an entire career ahead of you, and so many young lives yet to influence in so many special ways. The next thing you know, you're approaching the end of your fruitful and rewarding teaching career, and it all happened in the blink of an eye! Is it the right time to go? Do I have enough money to retire? What else do I need to think about?  So many of these questions, and more, are answered for you in your OTPP online account. Check it out today!

Continue Your Learning

Service credit? Defined benefit plan? 85 factor?  What's that all about? Join us at Liuna Station on April 9 to learn more about your pension and other financial planning considerations for your retirement.  Consider the following links which provide useful information about your pension and other considerations to have before starting your retirement.

Review Your Pension

Update Your Profile

Check Your Buyback

Apply For Your Pension

...and More!


Termination of LTD Deductions

When a member reaches 30 years of pension service credit, their Long Term Disability "caps out," and further LTD deductions   become payment for insurance for which they no longer qualify.

There are 3 scenarios where a member would be advised to cancel their LTD payments:

If you meet the criteria outlined in one of the three scenarios above, please complete the Long Term Disability cancellation form and then forward it to the unit office.

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

5650 Yonge Street, Suite 400 North York, Ontario M2R 1M4

Telephone: 416-226-2700 Toronto area

1-800-668-0105 all areas outside Toronto

Fax: 416-730-5349


OTIP Financial Planning Workshops

Starting to plan for retirement? This exciting transition also comes with a lot to consider.  Join OTIP and Educators Financial Group for a free retirement workshop where you’ll learn more about:

This free workshop is open to members and spouses. As a courtesy, refreshments will be provided when possible. Please note any dietary or accessibility requirements at time of registration. You will receive an email confirmation with more details when you register. OTIP reserves the right to cancel an event due to low registration numbers. If you have already registered, you will be notified of a cancellation at least 3 days prior to the event date. 

If you have any questions about your registration, please email

Know Your Rights

Teacher Watch Dog - Ontario College of Teachers

As you know, our professional fees have increased to $200 per year and what do you get for your money? You are paying for the OCT to police teachers, yet only 6 of 12 Council members are teachers and members of the profession. The lowest number found in any similar organization in Ontario. Their own mandate states that they exist to "serve the public interest by regulating the teaching profession to protect students. Yes, this is a direct quote from their website.

OCT Complaints - Social Media

The numbers of OCT complaints reflect the mandate just mentioned. We have seen a sharp increase in complaints made to the OCT.  The best case scenario of an OCT complaint is getting pulled into a long, drawn out process and the headache it is to navigate an investigation.  However, the worst case scenario is that your teaching certificate is placed at risk, and an OCT complaint could trigger other processes such as an employer investigation, CAS/CCAS investigation or police investigation. Or all of these. 

So what does this mean for you? Sometimes a parent is going to be unhappy with your decisions and that might mean they utilize an OCT complaint to make their point.  When they do, they are often looking to find proof to corroborate their narrative.  Parents will turn to social media to accomplish this. Even if you don't use your full name or if your name has changed, where there is a will, there is a way. We have seen these scenarios presented as case studies at Provincial workshops but it has also happened in Hamilton-Wentworth. It doesn't matter how long ago a teacher posted something, it can be used as evidence against a teacher. We suggest that you  do a deep dive into your social media and ensure you remove any post that could be used against you in this manner. Times and tolerances have changed, and so have you, most likely. So go back and review your posted content using a 2024 lens to evaluate it.  In addition to this,  review pictures that are available publicly. For example, Facebook changed their permissions a while back and profile pictures were suddenly public content. Any picture where you have a drink, a cigarette (or other item) in your hand can, and has been used against teachers. While we feel there should be a reasonable expectation of privacy and an ability to be "off the clock" the OCT doesn't agree. Regardless of privacy settings, posting content is still a public post. You cannot control who someone shares your post with and we have seen this impact teachers in Hamilton-Wentworth on more than one occasion.

Serious Allegations

If you are contacted by your administration, board official, CAS/CCAS or police, now is not the time to tell your life story. As teachers, we are in the business of talking and sometimes we think we can explain a situation and the problem will be resolved. Instead, what you are doing is handing over information that may be used against you later. This is the phrase you should say if you are approached to discuss a situation: "I am willing to co-operate but I must consult with my union or legal council first." This is not an admission of guilt, it is an assertion of your right to representation and advice prior to responding. 

Sexual Abuse Prevention Program

Hopefully you have completed this program and if you have, ensure your OCT certificate indicates "Completed" beside it. The OCT has provided school boards with the names of teachers who have not completed the program and are "encouraging" them to ensure compliance.  If you requested an extension, you may want to ensure your profile has the notation "To Be Completed" beside it. If you do not have an extension and have not completed the program your profile will state, "Incomplete." Any teacher whose status is "Incomplete" may be contacted by the board. Our office should be copied on any communication and as always, you have the right to consult with your union prior to responding. We expect the OCT will demand an increased level of response from the board if the program is not completed. If you are experiencing difficulties with completing the program please reach out to the office.

Alison Coyle

1st Vice-President
Lead Negotiator/Contract Manager

Health and Safety Corner

Ventilation Guidance

The annual respiratory illness season is well underway, and with at least six weeks to a month and a half remaining of this dreary winter weather, now seems a fitting time as any to review the ventilation precautions and procedures which remain in place as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In what is being widely reported as a tripledemic, predictions by public health experts of a particularly active season brings with it a heightened awareness to the importance of good indoor air quality. Whether it be COVID, influenza, pneumonia, RSV, or some other nasty pathogen, by improving the quality of the air we are all breathing, we can help to keep everyone safe from what can be life altering diseases.

Source:  Public Health Ontario - Ontario Respiratory Virus Tool

Guidance For School Boards

The following are excepts taken from B Memo 11.  For full details, please click on the link to read B Memo 11 in its entirety.

School boards are expected to:

HEPA Units

For buildings/rooms that rely on natural ventilation/no HVAC system:

Other guidance:

The list given above represents only the key highlights from B Memo 11. For greater understanding, please reference the memo directly through this link. Should question arise, please speak to the worker representative(s) on your school's Joint Health and Safety Committee. Through the powers of the JHSC under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workers can get answers to their health and safety questions. The OECTA-HW can also be a source of information to help direct members with questions to the answers they seek. Email Paul or call 905-574-6483 to reach one of us in the office.

HEPA Unit Maintenance

When is the last time that your HEPA unit's filters were inspected? Replaced? Not sure?  Your school's Joint Health and Safety Committee will be able to get that answer for you. If a filter(s) is past due for a change, the JHSC will be able to flag the issue for the Plant Department through the monthly inspection report. 

Shown in the photo below is but one of many models of HEPA filtration units deployed in the schools of the HWCDSB. Each unit will vary in their manufacturer's requirements for filter changes. Reference to the manufacturer's operation manual will reveal the required schedule of filter changes.  

PUR Distribution Model #PD-HEPADM400-VSG
Photo taken January 10, 2024 at a HWCDSB elementary school. This HEPA unit's filters are in dire need of maintenance.  Ask your JHSC reps about the HEPA unit(s) in your school.

Prefilter (#DMH4-0855): 

This must be replaced every 3-6 months. 

Carbon Prefilter (#DMH4-0810): 

This must be replaced every 3 - 6 months. 

HEPA Filter (#DMH4-0400): 

Replace every 2-3 years.

To determine the filter change requirements for any given HEPA unit, the model number located on the unit will aid in finding the unit's user manual. If assistance is needed, please consult with your school's JHSC or the OECTA-HW unit office.

Member Opportunities

Provincial Association Opportunities

OECTA Diversity Advisory Board

Applications are now being accepted to fill four positions on the Diversity Advisory Board (DAB), for a two-year term, beginning July 1, 2024 and ending June 30, 2026. Applicants must be members who self-identify as belonging to one or more of the following Indigenous and equity-deserving groups:

One applicant from each identified group will be selected to serve on the DAB. They will join the four other members who are in the middle of their two-year term.

The duties of the DAB are to confidentially advise the Provincial Executive on matters related to the needs of their respective groups, as members of the Association, and barriers to engagement and/or involvement within the Association; and to confidentially report on any other matters requested by the Provincial Executive. DAB members will also be non-voting members of the Council of Presidents.

You are encouraged to apply for this exciting opportunity. Applications will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on February 12.

OECTA Scholarships, Fellowships, and Bursaries

Post-Graduate Scholarships

Each year, the Association may award three memorial scholarships, named for Rose Cassin, Doreen Brady, and Father J. Harold Conway, to members for full-time post-graduate study.  Applications must be submitted by April1st


As well, two fellowships of up to $10,000 each may be available to members for full-time studies in religious education, and one fellowship of up to $10,000 may be available to members for full-time study in labour studies. Applications must be submitted by April1st.


Additionally, the Association may also award memorial bursaries, named for Joan Rogers Kamps, to members for up to $1,000 for studies commencing summer 2024 through to the end of the academic year in 2025. Applications must be submitted by May 1st.

Young Authors Awards

Catholic teachers are proud to sponsor the annual Young Authors Awards/Prix Jeunes Écrivains. The awards celebrate the writing talents and accomplishments of students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, who submit short stories, poems, and nonfiction articles (e.g. reflection or report) written in either English or French.

There are three levels of competition: school, unit, and provincial. The first-place winners at the school level advance to the unit level, and the first-place winners in each unit advance to the provincial competition. A  collection of winning entries is published in book form each year

Deadlines for Consideration

February 12 - School Deadline

February 21 - Unit Deadline

March 4 - Provincial Deadline

Winners are announced in June. 

To apply for the 2024 Provincial Selection Committee, complete the application form by February 23, 2023.

Please contact with any questions you may have. 

OECTA WebExperiences

What is a WebExperience?

An engaging new approach to professional development. Live and interactive online sessions designed and delivered by teachers for teachers – offering fun and innovative ideas and activities to support your curriculum delivery.

Open to all Kindergarten to Grade 12 Catholic teachers, WebExperience offers bite-sized professional development accessible from anywhere you are (with an internet connection).

Check out our library of archived sessions here!

Equity & Inclusion Foundation

February 6, 20247:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Register Today!

Google Classroom Basics

February 7, 20244:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Register Today!

How to be a Responsive Educator

February 13, 20244:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Register Today!

Faith & Media

February 20, 20244:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Register Today!

Creating a Trauma Informed Approach in Classrooms

February 21, 20247:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Register Today!

The Complexities of Culture

February 27, 20247:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Register Today!

Character Development in Your Classroom

February 27, 20247:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Register Today!

OTIP Teaching Awards

The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) are proud sponsors of the OTIP Teaching Awards.

For many years, these awards have recognized the excellence of our teachers in publicly funded education. There are three categories of awards: elementary school teacher, secondary school teacher and beginning teacher in the first five years of teaching. A teacher may be nominated by anyone – professional colleagues, students, parents, or the general public.

Nominations are now open for the 2024 awards. The deadline for receipt of nominations is March 31, 2024. Further information is provided on the attached PDF and is also available at

If you have any questions, please contact Jason Healey at

It would be appreciated if you would highlight and promote these awards.

Thank you for your assistance in promoting the OTIP Teaching Awards program!

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