Around OECTA

September 2023

Welcome Back OECTA-HW

President's Message

Hello Elementary OECTA Members.  It has been a quick start to the school year. It is hard to believe September is over.

Thank you to all members who attended the General Meeting on Wednesday. The path forward in the next few weeks will have its foundation on our commitment and solidarity as an Association. Other opportunities to show this strength and commitment are coming up.

We have a strike rally scheduled for Tuesday, October 10th at 4:30 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre. A flyer was sent out on September 14, 15, and 22, outlining details of the rally, including parking information. This rally is to gather information and momentum moving toward our Strike vote on Wednesday, October 18 (until October 19). 

All OECTA Elementary teachers (permanent and occasional) should be in attendance. 

Union solidarity is a key for this bargaining cycle to be successful. In attendance at the rally will be our Provincial President, Rene Jansen in de Wal and our Lead Negotiator, Tom Doyle. Many provincial staff will also be in attendance on October 10th. The member update you received by email on September 28th outlines many pieces of information surrounding the rally and strike vote.

Another teaching affiliate has recently voted to move forward on a path that will be decided by binding arbitration. OECTA’s belief continues to be that the best way to a fair and comprehensive agreement is at the bargaining table. It is at the table where our priorities can be addressed. Priorities which include; a focus on increased violence in schools, prep & planning time, teacher working conditions and rights, resources and support for student mental health and special education, teachers’ use of professional judgement, fair hiring, the hybrid “learning” model, addressing teacher recruitment and retention, and sick leave. Our priorities were identified by members and through collective bargaining regional meetings.

The best tool we can give the bargaining team is a strong strike mandate. Having this support during negotiations sends a clear message of our strength and solidarity. It will be through this show of strength and resolve that our Association can achieve our goals.

We will be having a Staff Reps meeting on Wednesday, October 4 at 4:30 at St. Naum’s to discuss the strike rally and strike vote. Being informed and involved is the best way to advocate for yourself and the Association. 

Looking forward to seeing all of you in the coming weeks.

OECTA Strong!


Important Upcoming Dates

OECTA Strong Strike Rally

It's no laughing matter. The Provincial Bargaining Team needs you at this critical moment in the bargaining process. On October 10, teachers from across Hamilton will gather at Carmen's Banquet Centre to learn more about the state of negotiations from Provincial Association guests who will be in attendance. This event represents an excellent opportunity to obtain accurate information about what is really happening at the table and to ask your very important questions regarding the priorities of the Provincial Bargaining Team. All members are strongly urged to attend, not only for the information sharing that will take place but also to demonstrate that Hamilton is OECTA Strong!

OECTA Strong Rally Shirt

To help us with event planning, we would appreciate knowing how many teachers intend to attend Carmen's on October 10. As a token of our appreciation for your registration, you will receive a FREE OECTA Strong t-shirt. This shirt can be worn not only at the rally but also beyond to symbolize the unity of our Association and our unwavering commitment to securing a fair deal for Catholic teachers.

Quantities are limited.  Those who wait to register may not be guaranteed a shirt on the day of the rally.  You will be added to a waitlist for a second order which will be put through after the rally.

You must attend the event to get your

FREE OECTA Strong t-shirt. 

Stephen Lecce, pictured here demonstrating the size of his support for public education, has shown very little interest in bargaining at the table.

OECTA Strike Vote

Starting on October 18, the Association will be calling on its members to participate in a strike vote. The importance of providing the team with a strong strike mandate cannot be overstated. It sends a clear message to the government that teachers are united in their determination to secure fair working conditions and advocate for the welfare of both teachers and students alike. A robust strike mandate empowers the bargaining team to negotiate from a position of strength, increasing the likelihood of achieving meaningful progress in the ongoing discussions and preserving the excellence of Catholic education in Ontario. 

Please note that you will be required to login to your account to view the resources.
Stephen Lecce pointing out what he has done for students in Ontario.

Local Unit Issues

Missed Planning Time Bank

Planning time provisions in our collective agreement state that we will receive a defined amount of planning preparation and planning time per week.  Following the situation with OT coverage last year these past few school years, we cannot stress enough the importance of banking your missed time.  Begin tracking now and remain diligent in recording your missed time throughout the year.  It is each teacher's responsibility to bank their own missed time.

According to the Article X: 10.01 in our collective agreement; 

A Teacher who misses his/her preparation and planning time shall record the number of minutes on each occasion in the “Missed Planning and Preparation Time Binder” found in the main office of each school. 

Article 10.01 Preparation and Planning Time - Key Elements

Please note that the AIT schedule should shift on weeks with a  PA day or holiday to prevent the same teachers from consistently losing their weekly AIT period..

If you have questions about planning and preparation time, please reach out to the office for assistance.

PD Funds

As part of the OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth 2022-2023 budget, $22 000 has been set aside to assist members with costs associated with professional development opportunities such as AQ courses, conferences, and workshops. To take advantage of this opportunity, please complete the application form linked below.  

Please Note:

The Right to Disconnect

As a reminder to our members, the HWCDSB's Right to Disconnect policy remains in place. Please be mindful when sending any after-hours communications to colleagues which are otherwise pertaining to work-related matters.  We understand that a teacher's job does not end at 3:30pm each day, and that sometimes the only moment you get in a day is late in the evening when the kids are finally in bed, and you can finally hear your own thoughts again. Peace.  We understand.  So, 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.

"Disconnecting from work means not engaging in work-related communications,  including emails, telephone call, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work."

Track Your Mileage

At the start of each year it is a good idea to refresh yourself on the three different travel allowance buckets available to you.  The first two, Articles 8.01 and 8.02, are defined in our contract. For most members, these are the ones to be most concerned with. The third bucket is reserved for travel incurred in the execution of union related business.

It is important that you keep an accurate and itemized list of all travel.  Your list should be separated according to the bucket through which the funds are dispersed. 

Article 8.01 - Board Approved Business

Article 8.02 - Extracurricular Allowance 

OECTA Committee Mileage

Feeling refreshed for a new school year

Promotional Material

Summer break is an excellent time to refresh yourself for the next school year. It’s also an ideal time to align your goals, including those that support your health, wellness, and financial security. Let OTIP help you with that!



Know Your Contract

Check Your Grid Placement

Contract Links

At the end of each school year, the Mulberry department faces the annual challenge of updating thousands of records before September. This task, though done year in and out since time immemorial, can sometimes harbor hidden errors, resulting in significant issues for teachers which are best managed sooner than later.

Over time, several members have discovered incorrect paycheques  or discrepancies in how their absences were accounted for in the previous year. Fortunately, these errors can be rectified. We urge you to invest just 5 minutes of your time to ensure the accuracy of your records. Your future peace of mind is worth it.

As you are aware, we are paid on a grid which takes into account years of service and qualifications. If you are a young teacher who is still moving through the grid, you should see your work from last year reflected in your grid placement this year. Please note that a teacher may be moved through the grid using a "half-step" for any half-years of experience.  Please refer to the collective agreement for the details pertaining to half-steps.

Additional Qualifications and Grid Movement

Many of our members use their summer vacations to upgrade their credentials. In some instances, completion of a course may lead to a category change on the pay grid. Please note that the school board will not automatically adjust your placement on the grid.  Teachers are responsible for submitting a record of the course completion to the Qualification Evaluation Council of Ontario.  The teacher must then provide notice of a category change to the board before adjustments are made. 

Daily Rate for Occasional Teachers

For our members who are currently working in a daily occasional role, the daily rate for the 2022/2023 school year is $248.48.

Expired Contract

As you know, as of August 31, 2022 the contract expired and OECTA is in the process of negotiating a new contract. Despite this, those teachers who are still moving through the grid should gain a year of experience for this past year, and their pay should increase to the next step in the grid. 

If you are already at A4 Max, your pay will remain the same. Once a new collective agreement is signed and ratified, any pay increases realized in the new contract would be paid retroactive to September 1, 2022. 

It is always a good idea to check ESS and ensure you are being paid at the correct step and years of experience.

Absence Allocation and Balances

Please ensure that the board has accurately accounted for your absences last year. Errors have been known to happen, and they are much easier to resolve earlier on in the school year. As a reminder, your top-up days this year are equal to  your remaining Personal Illness balance from last year. Each top-up day equates to 10 days paid at 100% while accessing the Short Term Leave and Disability Plan (bank of 120 days), so be certain that your top-up days are accurately reflected.  

Annual Learning Plans

Guide to the ALP 

Members are reminded that they must maintain an Annual Learning Plan in accordance with Article 6.3.1 of the Central Terms of the collective agreement.

"The Annual Learning Plan (ALP) is a component of the performance appraisal framework for experienced teachers. Experienced teachers must complete/update their ALP in accordance with Ministry and regulatory requirements. The ALP is teacher-authored and directed and is developed in a consultative and collaborative manner with the principal, or designate."

To assist members with writing and maintaining their Annual Learning Plans, your Association has created a guide which outlines the three main components to each plan: professional growth objectives; proposed action plan; and timelines for achieving those objectives.  

Sample Annual Learning Plan

Check Out These Other Useful Resources

A Guide to NTIP

NTIP Checklist

Experienced Teachers TPA

TPA Checklist

Health and Safety Corner

What Happens When a Safe Schools Incident Report is Filed?

As teachers continue to face an unprecedented rise in challenging student behaviours, they have increasingly turned to the Safe Schools Incident Report as a means to petition the Board for desperately needed support in the classroom.  Unfortunately, confusion remains about the course of action which follows the filing of an SSIR, and many teachers are left wondering if anyone is listening.

To help bring some some clarity on the required response to the filing of an SSIR, please consider the following information taken from the Education Act, Program and Policy Memorandum 145, and the HWCDSB Code of Conduct.

Required Response to the SSIR

The required response to the filing of a Safe Schools Incident Report is defined in the Education Act and Program and Policy Memorandum 145. 

The principal must...

Ed Act 300.2(3)
Ed Act 300.2(4)
Ed Act 300.3(1)(a)
*Limited circumstances would prevent  this ~ Ed Act 300.3(2) & (3)TEACHER WHO FILED THE REPORT MUST BE MADE AWARE THAT THE PARENTS HAVE NOT BEEN CONTACTED.
Ed Act 300.3(1)(b)
*Limited circumstances would prevent  this ~ Ed Act 300.3(2) & (3)TEACHER WHO FILED THE REPORT MUST BE MADE AWARE THAT THE PARENTS HAVE NOT BEEN CONTACTED.
PPM 145
PPM 145

If SSIRs are being filed and the response does not align with what is described in the Education Act and PPM 145, please contact the OECTA office for guidance on next steps.

Student Transfer Requirements 

Where a student is transferred to another location in order to preserve school safety, a "transfer meeting" between the two schools is required to put in place a transition strategy which identifies any additional supports and resources that the student may require. The meeting MUST include teachers and other school staff that will have regular direct contact with the student. The meeting must occur prior to the day or on the day (prior to attending classes) the student is transferred. The receiving school must also be in possession of the student's Ontario Student Record prior to the occurrence of the transfer meeting.

Despite the Board's SSIR tool suggesting so, please note that there is NO legal requirement to notify anyone orally before completing an SSIR.

Member Opportunities

Local Unit Opportunities

Committee Call-Outs

As the heart and soul of OECTA-HW, our members possess the power to foster positive change within our Association through their involvement on the unit's various committees. Working together with fellow colleagues builds a sense of camaraderie and unity, while providing a platform to collaborate, exchange ideas, and contribute to the collective wisdom of our profession.  Our ultimate aim is to cultivate a vibrant community of professionals, and harness their collective talents and knowledge toward our shared interest—a well-supported workforce within a thriving publicly funded Catholic education system.

We encourage all members to explore the various committees within our unit and find one that aligns with their interests and aspirations. Remember, your involvement matters! Together, we can shape the future of education, advocate for positive change, and create a system that truly supports both educators and students. Join the movement today and become an active participant in building a brighter future for our profession and the children we serve.

Provincial Association Opportunities

Apply to be a PDN Presenter

Join OECTA’s amazing cadre of Professional Development Network (PDN) presenters and take part in workshop presentations to share your experience and expertise with your teacher colleagues from across the province. 

If you have an area of expertise or interest and you are willing to share your knowledge, consider applying to OECTA’s PDN! 

Applications will be received until October 10.

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: November 1-25, 2022. 

Registration: Opens September 2, 2022.

Got Questions? Read the Mini-Course FAQ.

Ontario Teachers' Federation Opportunities

Ici on parle français Grant Program

Once again, participants can partner with other FSL teachers in a collaborative learning team of two to four teachers or apply for an individual grant. For those working in a team, the maximum grant is $500 per team member (maximum $2,000 per team), and for those working individually, the maximum grant is $250.

You can use your PD grant to participate in a French as a Second Language (FSL) professional learning program/activity of your choosing or to purchase teacher/educator resources to support your own FSL proficiency and teaching. 

The deadline for applying for a grant is 5:00 pm on Monday, October 16, 2023. Successful applicants will be notified by early November 2023.

To find out more about the Ici on parle français 2023-24 grant program and to apply, click here.

Tax-Free First Home Savings Account

Promotional Material

First Home Savings Account is now available at Educators Financial Group! Bring your homeownership goals to life. Open an FHSA and you could WIN your rent for one month!* Start Investing tax-free.

Brought to you by Educators Financial Group. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.