Around OECTA

March 2024

From Your Local Unit

President's Message

Hello and happy Holy Week to all.

Easter is early this year but I’m sure it is a welcome break to celebrate with family.

Thanks to the overwhelming support for the tentative collective agreement, OECTA’s members have ratified the tentative agreement with a 91.7% vote in favour. There were 4 virtual information sessions which outlined the details of this tentative agreement and provided opportunities for questions. The vote was conducted over 2 days this week. This strong response illustrates the trust and confidence that OECTA members have in their bargaining team and the Association.

What does this mean? 

While we await the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association’s ratification vote on April 2nd, the unit office has been in communication with the board about potential local bargaining dates. 

The details of the collective agreement state that there needs to be 1 day set aside for establishing bargaining ground rules and at least 5 days committed to bargaining. 

The Collective Agreement for 2022-2026 won’t be fully ratified until both central and local bargaining have concluded.  While we have specific items to bring to the local table, the office recognizes the need to be efficient and judicious with this part of the bargaining cycle.

One item of note to be discussed is the remedy for Bill 124. As most of you are aware, there is to be a financial redress for the unlawful bill that OECTA successfully challenged in court. There is a time limit tied to this remedy that is valued at 7.41% (with compounding) and it is ONLY for the years of 2019-2022. While Bill 124 has had effects on our pay even until today, the remedy only speaks to those 3 years. The effect that this bill has on our pay now, will be remedied when the collective agreement salaries for 2022-2024 are addressed.

The callout for unit executive elections was sent out on Wednesday, March 27th to personal emails. Please review the positions that are eligible for election this year and consider declaring candidacy for the open positions. Elections take place on May 22nd at the general meeting. One of the best ways to strengthen our democracy is to participate in it.

In other news, there has been some alterations to the PD day schedule for April 8th. The original plan had students at home and staff working regular hours. After some conversations and a letter sent to the Director and the Chair, the board listened to our concerns and decided to modify the work hours for the day. Communication on the new timelines and topics was sent out late in the day on March 28th. Hopefully, this adjustment will provide for the health and safety concerns we raised with the board. If there are individual concerns, they are best addressed at the school level with the principal. If this does not solve the issue, please contact the office.

A reminder of the OECTA Pension workshop scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at St. Naum’s Church on Stone Church Rd E. Registration for this event will be open until April 9. There is a link in the newsletter below and was available in February’s newsletter and in an email sent to members on March 22nd. 

A reminder as well to take this weekend and spend time with family and close friends. Enjoy a meal (or 3) with loved ones and may the joy of Easter fill your hearts and continue to inspire you in all you do. Blessings to you this Easter season.


Important Upcoming Dates

OECTA-HW  Unit Executive Elections

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the OECTA-HW unit elections will take place at our General Meeting. There is an Nominations Committee that is co-chaired by Horst Schweinbenz and Lynda Cifani. If you are interested in helping with elections at the GM, ballot collectors will be needed. Please reach out to Horst via email  

Prior to elections there will be a number of callouts (email to your personal email address), as outlined in the by-laws.  The first call-out was sent on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.  Any member interested in running for a position should email Horst at and indicate the position you are interested in putting your name in for. The deadline is Tuesday, April 9, 2024 in order to have your name published in the 2nd report of the Nominations Committee.

In order to have your election statement published in the Nominations Committee flyer on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, you must submit your statement to Horst via email, by Tuesday, April 23, 2024. 

The third call-out deadline is Tuesday, May 14, 2024. The final report of the Nominations Committee will be Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Nominations close on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Important election info to take note of:

Questions or concerns should be addressed to Horst Schweinbenz or to Alison Coyle 1st VP. Anyone running for a position is excluded from participating in election related matters.

Call for Nominations

On March 27, the Nominations Committee published its first call-out for interested candidates for the following open positions.

*Must hold valid JHSC Certification .

*Four positions available.

*Must be an elementary Occasional Teacher. Only elementary Occasional Teachers are eligible to vote for this position

The position of 1st-Vice President and Recording secretary are held on alternating years (odd numbered years) as per the by-laws and will continue in their positions.

Teacher Transfer Process

As per our Collective Agreement, the board is required to inform teachers of their assignment for the 2024-2025 school year by May 2. 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 a specialty position and they apply for a regular classroom position or PPT in transfers. If you are considering a change, it is recommended that you reach out to your supervisor to discuss this, and/or reach out to the unit 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 date as an OT is the tiebreaker. If this happens to be the same as well, days worked as an OT is the next tie breaker.

If the school organization for next year means there is a loss of a classroom, then the least senior teacher within the school 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 a position opens back up due to increased enrolment or reorganization before August 31, the 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. There are no longer any teachers on the supernumerary list and this year there were some new permanent hires.  

Teachers who are newly hired, are hired into their position on a one year temporary basis. The position needs to be made available to all teachers in the transfer process at the end of the year. The only exception is if a position goes through all 3 rounds of transfers and remains unfilled. At that point, the teacher assigned to that position is there permanently (unless they successfully transfer out the following year).

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 check out, than not to say something and accept a breach of our collective agreement.

To access the transfer list, there is a link on MySite Employee Centre. Sometimes there are delays and the site may not be active right at 9am. Please hold off on emailing Chris Doyle if it isn't active right away. 

All the best as we enter this last phase of the school year!


Community over Isolation

Harry Somerville and Sal Longley 

OECTA Service Awards

Each year, OECTA-HW presents a graduation award to a deserving grade 8 student at each school in the system. Presented in memory of Harry Sommerville and Sal Longley, former educators within the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, the award is given to a student who demonstrates the qualities of Harry and Sal who exemplified the light of Christ through their service to those in need.

Grade 8 teachers are reminded to submit their school's nominee for the award to Len Moccia before the May long weekend. Awards will be mailed to schools in advance of graduation ceremonies. Please note that the award does not come with a piece of hardware such as a plaque. Schools that wish to include a plaque or trophy with the award are advised to make the needed arrangements when placing their order for grad awards.

Harry Somerville

“He will be motivating me until the day I one else ever helped me.” This quote from a former drug addict gives witness to the effect that the life of Harry Somerville had on those he encountered. 

Born May 5, 1934, and raised in Hamilton, Harry attended Catholic schools where he later returned to teach. Mr. Somerville was a caring and loving teacher. His leadership potential was recognized as he assumed responsibility as principal and subsequently as founder and coordinator of Pastoral Services in 1980. Wherever he served, his tremendous love for God and his unrelenting zest for living to the fullest inspired others to believe in and use their God-given talents.

Never satisfied with his outreach to the poor and dispossessed, Harry joined the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd in 1984. His quest to follow Jesus unconditionally led him to the slums of Miami where, at Camillus House, he worked tirelessly to rehabilitate drug addicts.

It was in pursuit of a greater understanding of addiction and its prevention that his great heart burst. Harry Somerville died in his sleep in New Mexico on April 10, 1994. 

Sal Longley

Sal Longley was an exemplary teacher; a caring and courageous individual. Her perseverance, determination, and thirst for knowledge encouraged her students to set high standards for themselves, and propelled them forward toward success. Teaching in both the high school and elementary levels, she consistently instilled in her students a love of learning, especially in the field of English Literature, an area in which she received her Master’s Degree. 

Sal firmly believed in providing students with the necessary tools so they could pursue, explore, and expand their knowledge. In keeping with helping those in need, Sal was instrumental in coordinating a small group of teachers at St. Anthony of Padua School who volunteered to gather used clothing and toiletries for the elderly and homeless at Christmas time. Bearing the name "Christmas Charities" , Today, families within the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board are provided with food hampers and gifts for their children through OECTA Christmas Charities. Sal would be very proud to witness the continuation of her efforts of those in need.

Sal fought numerous battles and faced many difficult decisions concerning her health. As in all facets of her life, she persevered and accepted her limitations, but only as a means to empower her further - a truly remarkable and courageous teacher.

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Retirement Planning and Your OTPP

OECTA Pension Workshop

Planning on retiring one day?  Thought so - me too. Preparing for retirement isn't just an end-of-your-career thing. Whether you are calling it quits this year or in 30 years, all members are encouraged to join us at the OECTA Pension Workshop on April 16 to learn about how the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is working to provide security to teachers in their golden years. The information shared at this workshop is valuable for any member to learn, whether you're just starting out or have already bought the cottage on the lake.   

Please use this form to register your attendance.  A light meal will be provided, and you will have an opportunity to connect with your colleagues from across the system. The evening is always an enjoyable one, and all members are encouraged to consider attending.

St. Naum of Ohrid Parish Hall

1150 Stone Church Rd E, Hamilton, ON L8W 2C7

April 16, 2024

Dinner: 4:00 pm

Meeting: 4:30 pm


Ready to Retire?  Read This...


OTPP Annual General Meeting

OTPP 2023 Annual Report - The Results are In

As a member of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, you have a vested interest in the performance of the plan. After all, your retirement livelihood depends on its success!

The results for 2023 are now in, and members can take comfort in knowing that their defined contribution pension plan, the gold standard of pension plans, remains fully funded with a funding ratio of 107%. At $247.5 Billion in net assets, the OTPP remains on track toward its goal of $300 Billion in global assets by 2030. Suffice it to say, your retirement nest egg is in good hands, but maintaining a vigilant watch on your finances is always highly encouraged. 

That's why you are invited to attend/view the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan's Annual General Meeting, to be held on April 18.  All members of the plan are encouraged to register for in-person attendance or to view the livestream of the event. Given the significance of this investment (11% of your annual salary), engagement with the plan is to be encouraged to help give shape to the types of investments which will, ultimately, bankroll your retirement.

You’re invited to attend our AGM at The Carlu. Register now to join us in person or watch our live stream.

We’ll highlight our investment performance, member services and the plan’s funding status. Submit your questions for the Q&A with our executives:

Jo Taylor, President & CEO

Charley Butler, Chief Pension Officer

Steve McGirr, Chair

Thursday, April 18, 2024

5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Doors open at 4:00 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served

The Carlu

7th floor, 444 Yonge St.

Toronto, ON

M5B 2H4

Member Opportunities

Local Association Opportunities

Social Committee Updates

The Social Committee is excited to announce that the annual OECTA-HW Bowling event will be running once more. Registration details will follow in the coming weeks, but for now get your team together and get some practice frames under your belts. On May 16th, join us at Splitsville for what is always a memorable event.

The Social Committee would also like to plan an event for the end of June. The event? An afternoon of wine tasting in the Grimsby/Beamsville/Niagara area. This event would be open to permanent and occasional OECTA-HW members only (no spouses/children), and is potentially slated to happen on June 15 or June 22.

To assist us with gauging interest for this event, please respond to the following set of questions. Your input is valuable in guiding the work of the committee in providing opportunities for building community with your colleagues. 

From the 2SLGBTQIA+ Committee

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Committee is in the process of setting up a virtual meeting in April (date & time tbd).  The goal of this gathering is to help create a safe, supportive space for all our 2SLGBTQIA+ members.  

The gathering will be set up with the option for participants to attend in a completely anonymous fashion if they wish.  The agenda for the meeting will be quite flexible.

With this in mind, we will be asking for your input in creating the agenda.  We will be welcoming questions or suggestions that you would like to discuss.

The hope is to have these gatherings on a regular basis, again to create a safe space. 

FREE OECTA Strong Rally Shirt

Members can order a free OECTA Strong t-shirt through the OECTA-HW Swag Store, while supplies last. Delivery is offered through the HWCDSB mailbag, or you can choose to pick it up from our office. For delivery to your school, select "Ship to my Address" during checkout. We will send your shirt to the school you indicate in the options. We do not offer shipping to other addresses.

Supplies are limited in sizes SMALL & MEDIUM - first come, first served. When selecting your size, please note that these shirts fit a little on the larger side.

**If you previously paid for a shirt, please contact the office to discuss reimbursement.**

Provincial Association Opportunities

Provincial Committees

Provincial Committees provide opportunities for teachers to contribute their expertise, be creative, and develop new interests, while serving the needs of members. Small teams work on projects of their choice that can be completed within the school year. For example, the Professional Development Committee administers the Young Authors Awards and the Educational Aid Committee has been granting money to teacher and community organizations worldwide for more than 40 years. Getting involved can be an opportunity for you to bring forward your ideas and concerns, and get the Association working for you.

Applications for 2024-2025 Committee are now open. Deadline to apply is May 1, 2024.

The following committees are taking applications for a refreshment of their memberships:

OECTA AQ Courses

Your Association offers a wide range of Additional Qualification courses to help you progress in your career. Taking an AQ course is a great way to add to your professional portfolio so that you can better meet the needs of your students.  Consider registering for an OECTA AQ course today!

Key Information

*Early Bird Special. Add $50 after June 17

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: May 13-June 7, 2022. 

Cost:  $50

Got Questions? 

Read the Mini-Course FAQ or email

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