Around OECTA

October 2023

From Your Local Unit

President's Message

Hello Teachers of Hamilton-Wentworth. 

Fall has arrived and with it the chill of the reporting season. The due date for progress reports is around the corner and the challenges this year continue to be the exposure to the new Aspen program, a new Language curriculum, and changes in reporting grades for Language. As teachers, these challenges sit atop a base of rising instances of violence in our classrooms at a time of decreasing support as a result of the government's failure to invest properly in our schools.

Teachers continue to be asked to do more with less.

Scanning the pages of any newspaper will highlight the fact that incidents of violence in schools have risen sharply. The right for any worker to be safe at work is ingrained in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Violence in schools is a major item on OECTA’s list of central bargaining priorities and we continue to advocate for local action in this area.

Work continues to be done related to the completion of SSIRs, student safety plans, progressive discipline, and in rare cases, potential work refusals. To this end, the Provincial OECTA office has endorsed a study which will take an in-depth look at violence and harassment in the educational sector. The email was sent on October 20 in Member Update 88 to your personal emails. The survey can be accessed here.

With respect to reporting, teachers are still guided by the guidelines contained in the Growing Success document (linked in the Newsletter below). When making comments, the expectation is that a teacher will refer to strengths, weaknesses, and next steps when communicating with parents. Teachers may also refer to expectations from the curriculum to formulate comments and, when appropriate, make reference to particular strands. This process has not changed. For questions related to reporting or comments, contact the Unit Office.

As for our bargaining path. This continues to be guided by our commitment to collective negotiations. Our strong strike mandate from October 18/19 has given the bargaining team the tool needed to proceed with confidence and strength. We have given them a number that says they have the full support of the membership when they enter the negotiating room.

Stay tuned for member updates by email. As always, reach out to the office with any questions or concerns you have. Take care of yourselves. Take time with family and friends.


Important Upcoming Dates

OECTA Strong Rally Shirt

Weren't able to make it to the rally?  Want the swag?  The OECTA-HW office will be selling our Strike Rally t-shirts to members over the month of November. 

For $10 (unit cost), you can proudly declare to everyone around you that TEACHERS are at the heart of education. What's more? They'll know that you are OECTA STRONG. Worn together throughout our great communities of Hamilton-Wentworth, they'll know that WE are OECTA, and we stand united as one.

To make this offer available to our members, OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth is pleased to unveil our foray into the world of e-commerce with the launch of the OECTA-HW Swag Store. Members can order their shirt through the Swag Store throughout the month of November, while supplies last. 

Not a Member?  Want a Shirt?

Hey, Hamilton Secondary members (and all others!). Show that you are OECTA STRONG. Many of you expressed an interest in acquiring a t-shirt on the evening of the strike rally.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't in the fund to gift one to you. 

Don't worry - we've got your back! The OECTA-HW office is proud to offer our t-shirts to non-members for purchase ($15).  Orders can be made through the OECTA-HW Swag Store, while supplies last

Ontario School Violence and Harassment Survey

Violence and harassment against teachers and education workers is a critical issue – with a dramatic increase in incidents evident over recent years. The Association remains committed to advocating for the necessary resources, supports, training, and information, so that your legal right to safety in the workplace is protected.

To that end, and in an effort to better understand this issue, the Association is endorsing a study led by researchers from the University of Ottawa that will take an in-depth look at violence and harassment in the education sector.

This nationwide study will be the largest of its kind ever conducted in Canada. It is an expanded follow-up to the groundbreaking 2021 research, In Harm's Way, The Epidemic of Violence Against Education Sector Workers, which examined the specific experience of Ontario education workers.

The survey is now open and all Catholic teachers are eligible and encouraged to participate.

The online survey should take about 40 minutes to complete. Your responses will be entirely anonymous and confidential. No personal information about you or the school(s) in which you work will be collected. Reports detailing the findings will be available in the summer of 2024.

Money for AQ Courses

Members are reminded that the Ministry of Education has extended its offer to reimburse Teachers up to $650  for the completion of an additional qualifications course in Mathematics completed between September 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024.  The following courses are eligible for the subsidy... 

Read the Memorandum from the Board. To apply for the subsidy, please complete the form found in the link below.

Writing Your Report Cards

While drafting their progress reports, members are reminded that it would be inappropriate to assess or comment on the progress of a student in the absence of supporting data.  Growing Success offers this guidance on the formulation of a report card assessment;

"The teacher will consider all evidence collected through observations, conversations,  and student

products (tests/exams, assignments for evaluation)...that the student has completed or

submitted...and will use their professional judgement to determine the student’s report card grade."

In the absence of evidence, Growing Success suggests that extenuating circumstances may result in the use of the code "I" on the report card if a teacher determines it to be appropriate in the circumstances. Our members are reminded that they are to use their professional judgement in consideration of all the available evidence when authoring reports.  If you have further questions to this, please contact the unit office.

Electronic Monitoring Policy

In Ontario, employers that employ 25 or more employees on January 1 of any year are required to have a written policy on the electronic monitoring of employees in place. Added to the Employment Standards Act in 2022, these requirements  necessitate a disclose to employees whether or not the employer electronically monitors employees. If the employer does, the policy must include:

HWCDSB I.T.03 – Electronic Monitoring Policy, established in October 2022, provides confirmation that  the Board is monitoring Teachers and other employees through various means. Members are encouraged to be conscientious about their web browsing and electronic communications while accessing HWCDSB issued equipment and accounts. The policy makes clear that monitoring is occurring both while at school and while roaming, and in the following areas:

Promotional Material

We don’t stop at exclusive insurance discounts…We go the extra mile, like you.

Get exclusive auto and home insurance discounts and a $20 gift card of your choice when you get a quote!

Plus, you can keep that refreshed look with a new wardrobe! Get a quote in October and you’ll be automatically entered into our Back to School Bonus Contest for a chance to win a $1,000 Mark’s gift card.

Get an online quote or call 1-866-206-7523 and mention this offer.  Restrictions apply.  See rules and regulations.

Want another chance to win?  When you complete our 5-minute Back to School Survey, you could be one of ten lucky winners of a $50 gift card of your choice.  You only have until October 31, 2023, so start the survey now!

Read the rules and regulations here.

Know Your Contract

Staffing Long Term Positions

Ever wondered how the Board staffs Long Term Occasional teaching positions? You wouldn't be alone - it is a common question  encountered in the OECTA-HW office.  There is no mystery to the process, though, as it is defined in the Occasional Teachers' collective agreement in Article 17.3.

Overview of the Process

From Your Collective Agreement

17.3 The Appointment of Occasional Teachers in Long Term Assignments:

17,3.1 The school board shall not make an offer to any other person to fill a long-term assignment before having placed all redundant and supernumerary teachers in order of seniority.

17.3.2 If the Long Term assignment is not filled in accordance with 17,3.1, the school board shall post the assignment on Its website for all occasional teachers on the school board’s Roster to access, for at least three (3) weekdays, and will fill the assignment in accordance with the following: All Occasional Teachers shall have the ability to upload their portfolio to a secure and confidential space on Apply to Education or other equivalent space. Furthermore, Occasional Teachers shall be able to add/delete documents from their portfolio at all times; The school board shall identify the five most senior applicants to the LTO assignment posting who are available for the assignment and hold the required qualifications for the assignment, in accordance with articles 17.5.2 and 17.9 below. An Occasional Teacher shall be considered available for the assignment if said teacher has not already been assigned to another LTO position during the term of the LTO assignment being filled in accordance with this process. Each of the five most senior applicants shall be contacted and asked to confirm that they wish to be considered for the position. If any of the five applicants indicate that they do not wish to be considered, the board shall contact the next most senior qualified applicant, thereby ensuring that five applicants are considered. No further changes shall be made to the list of applicants to be considered for the assignment. The school board shall select the successful applicant from the applicants identified in 17,3.2.2. In doing so, the school board shall access and consider the information contained in the Occasional Teacher’s portfolio. Should less than five (5) qualified applicants apply to the LTO assignment posting, the school board shall select the successful applicant from the qualified applicants; if no qualified occasional teachers apply to the LTO assignment posting or if all qualified applicants decline the position, the school board may hire an external qualified teacher, in accordance with articles 17.5.2 and 17.9 below, who is not on the Roster, to fill this assignment.

Occasional Teacher Statement of Employment

Under Article 5 of the Collective Agreement, by September 30 all OTs must be given a statement of the days they worked in the prior school year. You have until December 1 to object to any discrepancies. It is strongly encouraged that you check every pay for inaccuracies, as every year we encounter errors. If you aren't paid for the day, then it isn't in SFE and you wouldn't get credit for it either.

Contact Chris Doyle with pay errors or objections to your statement. Copy on the email as well.


5.01 a) The Board shall provide all Occasional Teachers with an electronic statement of days worked as an Occasional Teacher during the school year. This statement shall be sent to the Occasional Teacher by September 3 0th.

b) Any corrections to the statement arising from Article 5.01 (a) shall be sent to the Board by December 1st, of each year.

Attendance Check-Up

When registering an absence on Smartfind Express, members are encouraged to perform a quick audit of their attendance allocations prior to confirming their absence with the system.  The use of an absence code for which one's allocations are exhausted may result in a loss of wages for the day. 

As a reminder, members have access to several "banks" of leave provisions,  the two most commonly utilized being the Personal Illness  bank of 11 + 120 Short-Term  leave days, and the "bank of five" personal days reserved for unique circumstances. 

Note that credits drawn in any given year from the "bank of five" must not exceed five for all of the above-mentioned circumstances, with a maximum of 2 days for urgent personal reasons. Please be certain to reference your contract for the finer details respecting your leave provisions. Contact the office for even greater clarity.

Employee Self Serve Allocation Balances


Abs:  Bank of 11 personal illness days.

ELP_U: Earned leave plan, unpaid days. 

Personal: Bank of 5 personal days; includes Urgent Personal, Compassionate, Medical/Dental Appointments, and Inclement Weather.

STLD: Short-Term Leave and Disability bank of 120 days. 

STLDTopUp:  Top up days available for use in conjunction with the STLD plan to top-up salary to 100%.

Health and Safety Corner

Lead in Drinking Water

Clean, safe drinking water is a fundamental necessity for human health and well-being. Yet, a lurking danger often goes unnoticed: lead contamination in water sources. While much attention is focused on the risks of lead exposure in children, adults are not immune to its harmful effects. What it boils down to is that there is no safe level of lead in water. Whether you are an adult, a child, or a growing baby, and whether you are at home, work, school, or anywhere else, it's crucial for all of us to be aware of the risks associated with lead exposure in our environments and how to minimize those risks.

Lead is a heavy metal with toxic properties that have been recognized for centuries. Exposure to even low levels of lead can lead to a range of health problems. Over time, the accumulation of lead in your body can increase, which may lead to a more pronounced development of health conditions associated with lead exposure.  The primary source of lead in water is aging infrastructure, specifically lead pipes, solder, and fixtures. As these materials corrode over time, lead can leach into the water.

Study Finds Significant Lead Levels in School Water

Joint study, released in 2019, between Global News, Toronto Star, Toronto Metropolitan University and Concordia University uncovered a significant amount of lead in the water found in Ontario schools.

Dangers of Lead for Adults

Preventing Lead Exposure at School

In 2017, Regulation 243 was implemented, requiring school boards to perform annual testing of water, and announce to the school community when a sample returned in exceedance of the provincial threshold of 10 µg/L. It should be noted that many experts concur that the level for which health risks are elevated are at 5 µg/L, a value reflected in the Federal standards for lead. Despite more current research and discussion, the Ontario threshold remains at twice the Federal level.

Where sampling reveals an exceedance to the provincial standard, school boards are required to take steps to fix the issue, and then undergo a regimen of sampling following the fix to ensure lead concentrations remain beneath 10 µg/L. Part of the remedies implemented may include things like the use of water filters certified for lead removal (NSF 53), replacement of plumbing and/or fixtures, and following a schedule of regular flushing to clear stagnant lead ladened water from the plumbing system.

To help our members in accessing the information they need to keep themselves safe in their work environments, please find the HWCDSB Water Testing Results taken from the Drinking Water Quality and Enforcement database. This publicly accessible database includes all test results for all schools in Ontario dating back to 2016. If assistance is required with navigating the data table or with interpreting the information, please contact the OECTA-HW office.

Member Opportunities

Local Unit Opportunities

Breakfast With Santa

The Social Committee is pleased to announce that the 12th Annual OECTA-HW Breakfast With Santa is scheduled to occur on Saturday, December 9 at Michelangelo Event and Conference Centre for a hearty breakfast and a little Christmas cheer with the big man himself! Get that Christmas family portrait done with Santa, courtesy of Pegasus Photography (visit their website)This event is a popular one. Buy your tickets today!

Key Details

Members of OECTA-HW, their spouse, and their children.

All Non-Members of OECTA-HW, their spouse, and their children; Extended family members of OECTA-HW members and Grandparents included.

Provincial Association Opportunities

Call For AGM Tellers

The Association is presently welcoming applications from both active and retired OECTA members to assume the crucial position of a teller at the forthcoming 2024 Annual General Meeting (AGM). This presents a unique opportunity to engage actively in the AGM, playing a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless execution of this noteworthy event on the OECTA calendar.

Application Deadline: Friday, November 10

AGM Dates: March 8 to March 11

Location: Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto

As a teller, you'll have the opportunity to work under the guidance of Provincial Office staff and play a vital role in ensuring the successful operation of the Annual General Meeting. Tellers will be assigned various duties throughout the AGM, including offering support to delegates during electronic voting.

Should you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Winter Book Club

Book Club is Back!

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.

The Professional Development department is inviting members to its virtual winter book clubs. Book Club participants will meet once for the book launch, and once for the book talk. 

This year, two books are featured:

by David Chariandy

by Amanda Jetté Knox

Click on the link below to learn more!

Registration is now open.

Space is limited.



David Chariandy

Launch Meeting

December 6, 2023

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Book Talk Meeting

January 9, 2023

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


With shimmering prose and mesmerizing precision, David Chariandy takes the reader inside the lives of Michael and Francis. They are the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, their father has disappeared, and their mother works double, sometimes triple shifts so her boys might fulfill the elusive promise of their adopted home.

Love Lives Here


Amanda Jetté Knox

Launch Meeting

December 7, 2023

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Book Talk Meeting

January 10, 2023

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


An inspirational story of accepting and embracing two trans people in a family--a family who shows what's possible when you "lead with love."

OECTA Literacy Institutes

OECTA's Virtual Literacy Institutes offer a timely and indispensable opportunity for teachers to assist in comprehending and implementing the new Language Curriculum for Grades 1-8 in 2023.  Participants can expect to engage in meaningful learning and dialogue, and come away with practical resources and classroom ready supports for immediate implementation.

Space is limited ~ first-come, first-serve.

The Front Matters - Highlighter Worthy Notes

During this session participants will become familiar with the curriculum context (front matter) and have an opportunity to discuss, share, and build practical ideas and classroom routines that support effective literacy instruction for all learners.

Digging into the Foundational Skills

You've Got This! Tools to Support Teacher Impact

You've Got This! Tools to Support Teacher Impact

Promotional Material

The top 10 tips for getting the most out of your mortgage renewal

Have a mortgage renewal coming up? You may be tempted to simply sign that renewal letter and be done with it (because time is ticking and interest rates keep on rising). However, not doing your homework before renewal time could mean missing out on opportunities to save money or switch to another mortgage that’s a better fit for your current needs.

Get the most out of your mortgage renewal with these 10 tips:

Brought to you by Educators Financial Group.