In This Issue
Local Unit Issues
I want to say how thankful our school board should be to have such capable, dedicated, and strong teachers. The expectations placed on you have been incredible and you’ve been flexible throughout.
We understand that many of you were dealing with unique and difficult circumstances. Communication from the board has been a challenge at times and we try our best to get you the most helpful and up-to-date information we can provide. We appreciate feedback as this helps guide our unit’s efforts.
Our missed planning time agreement for 2021-2022 remains a focus. We received most of the responses back from the verification process. Much time was needed to verify the numbers in the office. In the end, there were disputes in almost 20% of the records for a variety of reasons. The totals have been compiled and sent to the board for further review. Our hope is this will be resolved soon and we will continue to follow-up regularly with the board.
OECTA will be hosting its first in-person Annual General Meeting (AGM) since 2019. This meeting, held in Toronto, involves OECTA delegates from all over the province. The AGM is where the business of the association is conducted. Items such as association by-laws, officer reports, and executive elections are dealt with and delegates have an opportunity to have their voice heard at the provincial level. This year’s AGM takes place from March 10-13, 2023. If you are looking for an Association sponsored ‘stay-cation’ consider putting your name forward to be a delegate! Callouts for delegates will be early in the new year.
In the meantime and as we approach Christmas, continue to do your best. Enjoy this season with family and friends.
Important Upcoming Dates
The CUPE Deal and Our Negotiations
The events of the past number of weeks on the labour-movement front have been closely watched by your OECTA-HW leaders, and quite certainly by our members at large, as well. Similar to the previous round of negotiations, the government continues to engage in the Constitutionally protected collective bargaining process using bad faith tactics, even stooping to levels which can only be described as out-and-out lying (2246 days on strike? huh? Come again?!). To be clear, the government has not demonstrated through its actions the intention to land a fair deal with the education workers who stand side-by-side with us in our classrooms, and who help to ensure that our schools run smoothly each day. We know the value of their work. and we continue to stand with our colleagues and friends represented by CUPE as they now embark upon a ratification vote for their tentative agreement, the results of which should be known on December 6.
As members of OECTA, we are also moving forward with the collective bargaining process. Our Association's bargaining team continues to meet at the central table to fight for a deal which is commensurate to the valuable work our members do in their schools. Stay tuned to your email inbox for regular updates on the progress being made. Updates may also be found at catholicteachers.ca in the Members' Area. If you are not receiving email updates, be sure to update your email address with the Association by following this link.
Some Quick Napkin-Math on Lecce's 2246 "Strike" Days
Wages Over Time
CUPE's tentative agreement includes a $1 per hour bump to wages across all members, equating to approximately a 3.6% increase in wages. At a time when inflation continues to weaken our purchasing power (CPI = 6.9% in October), this deal represents a steep cut to the earnings of workers. Following what has already been a decade of austerity for the education sector, this deal falls short of what workers deserve. For our members, is reasonable to expect that a deal reached with the government will not be far off the mark set by the CUPE deal? One thing can be said for certain - and we should take our notes from CUPE on this - standing together, we can achieve a better deal for all.
What's Good For the Goose...
2018 - $124,976.12
2019 - $133,217.04
2020 - $133,217.04
2021 - $133,217.04
*2022 - $162,448.88
2018 - $146,691.05
2019 - $150,531.19
2020 - $165,851.04
2021 - $165,851.04
*2022 - $202,243.88
Premier of Ontario
2018 - $112,770.47
2019 - $208,974.00
2020 - $208,974.00
2021 - $208,974.00
*2022 - $254,830.13
2018 - $98,973.56
2019 - $100,943.00
2020 - $101,952.00
2022 - $104,001.72
*Fun Fact: The Legislative Assembly Act sets the base salary of Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament to 75% of that which a Member of the House of Commons is paid, provided that the Ontario budget is in surplus...which it currently is. So, there's plenty of money to go around for the Ford gravy-train, but not enough for the hard working people of this province.
As of April 1, 2022, a Member of the House of Commons is paid $189 500. The estimated values provided above are, therefore, based upon this information. Stay tuned for Sunshine List 2022 to see how this one turns out!
2022 Estimated Base Salary and Responsibility Salaries
Ontario MPP Base Salary = $142125 (+Additional Responsibility Salary)
Parliamentary Assistant Salary = $20,323.88
Cabinet Minister Salary = $60,118.88
Premier Salary = $112,705.13
Health and Safety Corner
The Right to Disconnect
As a reminder to our members, the HWCDSB's recently implemented Right to Disconnect policy is now in place. Please be mindful when sending any after-hours communications to colleagues which are otherwise pertaining to work-related matters. Though it is entirely understandable that not everyone works purely within the timeframe of 9am to 3:30pm, everyone's after-work schedule is a function of their own personal factors, and there needs to be a line drawn to establish where one's right to their personal time begins. When crafting any work-related communications to your colleagues, be certain to make use of the "Schedule Send" option. If you are continually receiving after-hours communications from a colleague, kindly remind them of this feature. The research on this is clear. We would all be better off to put down the phone, turn off the computer, and focus on what is most important when we leave work - friends, family, and ourselves.
Virtual Teaching Impacts Psychosocial Indicators
Throughout the pandemic, unprecedented demands were placed upon education workers which, undoubtedly, have exacted myriad impacts upon our members. As the world continues to emerge from the surreality of the last 2.5 years, and stock is taken of our collective experiences, the impacts of those demands are now coming into clearer focus. It turns out that facing an unknown and potentially deadly virus with only basic safety measures in place, while also redefining one's entire practice for a virtual model to be implemented on the turn of a dime, while also not receiving planning time, while also enduring significant cuts to the overall education budget resulting in a degradation of much needed supports for the children we service, while also trying to support our own families takes a toll on people.
In a recently released study by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), the researcher, John Oudyk, paints a picture of the toll taken on Ontario educators while teaching in a virtual environment. Though the findings will be unsurprising for many of our members, Oudyk found that a virtual teaching model led to:
feelings of isolation
higher role conflicts
less support from supervisors and co-workers
higher work paces
burnout, and more.
Starling Minds Digital 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.
SSIR Completion Updates
In last month's issue of Around OECTA, a table summarizing the completion of Safe Schools Incident Reports (SSIR) by school by month, over the period of time spanning September 2021 to September 2022, was published and quantified the under-reporting of inappropriate student behaviours within the HWCDSB. The data, or the absence thereof, exposes one certain conclusion - we are still on the learning curve when it comes to the SSIR. By the numbers, 82% of schools have no, or virtually no, inappropriate student behaviour to report. This just doesn't add up.
"Why report? Nothing ever gets done about it." To be sure, in the absence of reporting, nothing will ever get done to address the increased challenges being faced by education workers in a post-pandemic classroom. In a world increasingly driven by evidence-based decision-making, however, these reports are invaluable for the Board and your school's Joint Health and Safety Committee to bring about effective resolutions to the ongoing challenges we face in our classrooms. The data collected through each incident report builds upon the case to be made for additional supports for our students. Each report filed is yet another contributory data-point toward a greater understanding of the scope of the increased challenges faced by education workers. Just as data drives instruction, data drives allocation of resources.
The above stated, through our continued advocacy and promotion of the SSIR, we are pleased to report that there was a 72% increase in reporting in October when compared to September. This increase in reporting, however, is still but the tip of the iceberg, and barriers to reporting remain. As a gentle reminder to members, the completion of these forms is a duty placed upon all school board employees as a response to the behaviours identified in the Education Act and the HWCDSB Code of Conduct. Please refer to the October Around OECTA for more information on which behaviours meet the threshold for reporting. And, as always, please do not hesitate to reach out to the office with your questions or concerns.
Christmas Decorations at School
Members are asked to consider the following information taken from the HWCDSB FIRE SAFETY PROCEDURES REFERENCE GUIDE (See Page 9):
Christmas Trees in Schools
must be artificial and have a ULC or UL fire resistive label.
no freshly cut Christmas trees are permitted in school under any circumstances.
Christmas trees are not permitted in stairwells and corridors.
An approved Christmas tree is allowed in a classroom provided it does not obstruct the emergency equipment, electrical panel or access to exit.
An approved Christmas tree is permitted in the school foyer providing it contains only limited combustibles, it does not obstruct the access to exit and it does not reduce the required corridor width.
Ornaments such as mitten trees, children’s handmade combustible ornaments etc. are not permitted on the tree.
Bales of Hay
Not permitted in hallways where the width of the corridor access to the exit is reduced.
Ontario Fire Code 126.96.36.199(1): “the means of egress (i.e. corridor) shall be maintained free of obstructions”
For Buildings where there is additional space bordering the exit corridor (i.e. foyer) approved Christmas trees and proven non-combustible material-made nativity scenes are not deemed a contravention of the Ontario Fire Code.
Note that both wood and plastic materials are combustible.
At no time is hay or any similar product permitted to be used, no matter how small the quantity and tables are not permitted to be used to accommodate displays of any kind.
Seasoned Canadian drivers know the toll a long winter can take on a vehicle. Between the snow, ice, salt and slush on the roads and the wet, cold climate, it’s a tough season for vehicle owners. While harsh winters are an unavoidable reality of life in Canada, there are steps you can take to prevent damage to your vehicle and to keep you safe on the road. Here’s a list of 7 things you can do to get your vehicle winter ready.
Know Your Contract
Sick Leave and Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan
Pursuant to Article 3 of the Central Terms of our contract, a sick leave/short-term leave and disability plan is provided to permanent full-time and part-time teachers. Below are some of the key elements of the plan. If you have questions about the plan, including how to access it, please reach out to the office for assistance.
11 days provided to full-time teachers on the first day of each school year.
Full-time teachers whose status is less than 1.0 FTE are allocated 11 days prorated to their employment status.
Occasional Teachers placed in a term position or an LTO;
Full year placement - 11 days provided at the start of the assignment
Partial year placement - allocation is given at the start of the assignment and reduced from 11 days to reflect the proportion of the assignment length to the length of the regular work year (194 days)
Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan (STLDP)
Full-time teachers are allocated 120 STLDP days on the first day of each school year.
Full-time teachers whose status is less than 1.0 FTE are allocated 120 days prorated to their employment status.
Teachers on a term position or an LTO;
Full year placement - 120 days allocated on the first day of the assignment.
Partial year placement - 120 days prorated to the duration of the assignment relative to the school year.
STLDP days are paid at 90% except for where a teacher has top-up days remaining.
Personal Bank of Five
Urgent Personal Reasons - 2 days’ leave per year, not be taken prior to or following a scheduled break in the school year.
Compassionate Leave - granted in unusual circumstances. Contact the office for more info.
Inclement Weather - used when the road conditions preclude you from travel to work; to be used judiciously.
*If your bank of 5 personal days has been exhausted and you have a medical appointment, please use the code for Medical/Dental when registering the absence in Smartfind Express. The Board will debit appointment days from your personal illness allotments if your bank of 5 is at its limit. Please contact the office if this is not the case.
Abs: Personal Illness (Bank of 11 days)
ELP_U: Earned Leave - Unpaid (Expiring June 30, 2022)
Personal: Please see provided description for details.
STLD: Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan (Bank of 120 days)
STLDPTopUP: Short-Term Leave and Disability Plan Top-Up Days
Also Good to Know
Pension contributions continue while on the STLDP, including on the unpaid portion of the days.
A teacher approved for Long Term Disability (LTD) or Long-Term Income Protection (LTIP) is eligible to accrue pensionable credit by making contributions to the plan.
A teacher employed by a board to fill a term or long-term teaching assignment may carry over unused sick leave from one term or long-term teaching assignment to another term or long-term teaching assignment within the same school year.
Should a teacher finish a school year while accessing sick leave and/or the short-term leave and disability plan, and then begin the following school year while still accessing their leave provisions for the same condition, then their leave provisions from the previous school year are continued to be drawn upon until a bona fide return to work occurs. Once a teacher returns to work, new banks of 11 and 120 days are allocated.
Inclement Weather Code
On days when the weather is bad and you don’t feel safe travelling to school, you have access to the inclement weather code (in your collective agreement). This code was negotiated when the board would not agree to close schools on days when they cancel buses.
When you use the code, you must ensure you have one of your five medical/dental/urgent/personal days to use. To check this, you login to ESS on MySite to check your current year absence balance. We suggest taking a screenshot when you do this so you have proof that there were days available to you. However, sometimes ESS is behind in logging absences from SFE. That is why the best way to check how many days you have used is by logging into SFE and looking at your absence list. This is important to do because last year teachers lost a day’s pay (in some cases, they lost multiple days' pay) because they used the code but didn’t have any of their 5 days left. It is important to remember that there is a responsibility for teachers to be aware of their usage of their allocation of days and rules of their collective agreement.
In the past, the board also seemed to have the time to identify areas of the city where the weather wasn’t as bad, and ask teachers who lived in these areas why they needed to use the code. If you are contacted about your use of the code, or if you are informed you will be losing a day’s pay, please reach out to the office. You have the right to support and to make sure you know your rights before responding.
Take 'Edvantage' of the Savings
Edvantage is a savings program that offers savings, contests and more to Edvantage members and their families through partnerships with retailers and businesses. OTIP administers the Edvantage program on behalf of OECTA. Once registered, you can enjoy exclusive offers as an OECTA member.
Click the Register button below. You will need to know your OECTA membership number.
When you create an account, you will receive a validation email from Edvantage. To complete your registration, you must open the email and click the validation link.
Local Unit Opportunities
Breakfast With Santa
The OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth unit is pleased to announce the triumphant return of Breakfast With Santa. Join us on Saturday, December 17th at Michelangelo Banquet Hall for a breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, ham, home fries, pastries, coffee, tea and juice bar! This event is a popular one. Register today!
8:30am - Doors open
9:15am - Santa Claus comes to town, and breakfast buffet is opened
Children 13 & under will receive a gift from Santa
$15.00 per person for OECTA-HW Elementary, Occasional members and immediate family members (spouse, your own children age 2+)
$21.50 per person for any non-members, their family and all extended family members (this includes all grandparents)
Michael Moore Entertains and Educates
Thank you to everyone in attendance at our long awaited PD event with Michael Moore. His humour and beautiful soul gave us a few moments of stress relief. It was amazing to see the turn out and all the smiles around the room. The prize donations were so appreciated! Thank you to the whole committee for their work in bringing this event together for everyone.
Provincial Association Opportunities
Young Authors Awards
The Association is now accepting submissions for the 2022-23 Young Authors Awards/Prix Jeunes Écrivains for all students, from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Members are invited to encourage their students to participate in these awards, which acknowledge English and French writing in categories ranging from poetry and short stories, to plays and non-fiction.
The Young Authors Awards play an important role in celebrating our students and speak to the skills and values Catholic teachers strive to nurture.
For more information on the categories and criteria used in the selection process, please reach out to your local unit office.
Catholic Teachers Help Feed Ontario
OECTA President Barb Dobrowolski calls on Catholic teachers to show our generosity and help the people who need it most this Christmas. On December 1, the Association's Provincial Office will officially launch a Catholic Teachers’ Christmas Charity Drive, in association with Feed Ontario.
With the cost of food, rent, gas, and other essentials at a 30-year high, families across the province are struggling and need immediate help. Feed Ontario supports 125 food banks and more than 1,100 hunger relief organizations that reach communities across the province, including remote fly-in communities in northern Ontario.
This is an exciting opportunity for Catholic teachers to come together, as we give back to our communities and to other communities struggling to make ends meet this Christmas season. Stay tuned to Member Updates for more information on how you can make a difference in the lives of others.
From the Provincial Association
On November 15 and 16, 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.
This was the first meeting of the parties since reaching an agreement on a majority of the items in the “scope” of negotiations, to determine which matters will be addressed at the central bargaining table, and which will be addressed in local bargaining.
Talks over the two days were respectful and some progress was made. The next tentative dates are November 29 and 30.
The Association will continue to keep you apprised of relevant information on these proceedings and any new information as it becomes available.
Following two years of pandemic disruption, the Association remains committed to engaging you – our 45,000 Catholic teachers – in a variety of ways, to better understand your thoughts and perspectives so that we can continue to best meet your needs.
As part of these efforts, the Association has partnered with Pollara Strategic Insights, a leading research firm, to launch an upcoming all-members survey. Every Catholic teacher for whom the Association has a personal email address will be invited to participate in the study.
The survey will explore a range of issues, from mental health and well-being, to your thoughts on current events, to your preferences on what and how the Association communicates with you, and more. The survey will be entirely anonymous, and results will be reported in aggregate.
Stay tuned for more information about how you can take part in this important opportunity.