Spring Annual Reports 2020
Although we could not have our Spring Annual Meeting, we would still like to present the reports from the HEOT Executive.
WOW, hasn’t this been a year. With Central Bargaining strike action and COVID-19 this year has not been business as usual. Many of our members were stopped from working at the March Break with no end in sight. It started with two extra weeks for March Break and ended up being a full shutdown of in class instruction for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Thank goodness that CERB came along to assist our daily OTs without any work. This also impacted our local since a portion of our revenue, from your work, was seriously affected. The balance was that our expenses were reduced as a result of our cancelled activities so we managed to maintain a balanced budget.
Our office remained operational, although most of my work as President was done remotely. Emails continued, executive meetings were held via Google Meet or Zoom and business continued. It wasn’t the easiest task but we made it work. There was a delay in returning phone calls because I only came to the office irregularly. During this time we tried to keep our members informed with HEOT Facebook notes and blast emails. By the way, if you did not receive these blast emails it is probably because we don’t have your non-board email. We cannot send union emails through HDSB accounts. Fill in the request to join Secure Services on our website and your non-board email will be added to our email list.
ZOOM is the name of the game! All meetings from March on continued including Rep Council and POTs, all done on Zoom. We really missed the camaraderie of meeting with others in person and having those personal connections. I’m sure you did too. In May we had to cancel our Spring Annual Meeting, a highlight of the year for so many. As a result our local has purchased a Zoom account that will allow us to have virtual meetings in the future. Our first attempt at a Zoom meeting will be for the Fall General Meeting in October if thing have not changed by then. Our local will continue to plan for the upcoming year with the understanding that many things can only be done using a virtual platform.
We encourage our members to continue to think positive and to stay safe. Whatever comes our way we are Occasional Teachers and we are flexible
Al Bero, President
1st Vice President Report:
Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter, as we support each other in our role as occasional teachers. As this very unique school year comes to a close, I have to say that it is an honour to represent you and to be a part of an exceptional Executive that works hard on your behalf.
As we started this year, we were heading into negotiations with a Provincial government that seemed determined to “cut the heart out of education”. Little did we know what we were in for, the least of being the six days of job action. The union is only as strong as its members and the fellowship on the picket lines was encouraging. Mid-March brought on our forced layoff and lack of work. This has had a far greater impact on OT members and Locals as our income has been adversely affected. Now we are heading into local negotiations with the Halton Board and it is even more crucial that we remember the importance of sticking together and taking care of each other. Remember to continue to tell yourself that you are a teacher and that you are amazing and awesome. It is hard to remember that these days. We are living in a world that continues to wear us down if we don’t keep reminding ourselves and each other of how awesome and amazing we are. We are teachers and we need to give ourselves permission to be proud of that.
Along with the rights protected by our collective agreement come the responsibility of staying informed and being involved. Continue to keep up to date with what is happening through our webpages (Provincially at etfo.ca and locally at haltonot.ca) and our Facebook page (HEOT). Be sure to take advantage of the Professional Learning opportunities, the resources in the Lending Library and the subsidies that your Local provides to help support Occasional Teachers in Halton. Although all of our activities are on hold, social events, Professional Learning opportunities will return in the fall in some form. Collective bargaining, Status, Health and Safety, Goodwill and Awards Committees are active in working and planning to provide support to improve your working conditions. Be sure to check out the resources available to you through the Lending Library and the subsidies that are available to all Members to help with the cost of Professional Learning books or courses.
I encourage you to be involved in your Union. Stay informed, attend an event, sign up for a workshop, join a committee, run for the Executive or become a delegate to the ETFO Annual Meeting. Whether you are at the beginning of your teaching career or nearing the end, it will be a great experience.
Thank you those who organized and prepared this newsletter, the executive for all they do for us all year long and, again, to you, for taking the time to be informed.
As always, if you have a questions or concerns, please contact the office.
Brad Boehmer, 1st Vice President
Awards, Goodwill, Gifts and Donations Committee Report:
The Halton Elementary Occasional Teacher Local is committed to promoting a strong feeling of community in our group by establishing and maintaining contact with our Occasional Teachers. We encourage you to keep us informed of important life events that affect our members. These events will be recognized with a card for celebration or support or a special token such as a bouquet of flowers.
A charity we supported this year was the Gift of Giving Back which received a cheque from the HEOT Goodwill Committee as a result of fundraising at our Festive Open House and donation matching by our Local. This charity encourages young people to collect food for food banks across Ontario. We also donated to Books for Bars which allows incarcerated mothers to create audio recordings of books which are then given to their children to keep. $500 donations were given to each of the following charities which will benefit families and children: ROCK, TRAC SKIING and SAFETY NET. HEOT believes it is important to take every opportunity we can to help groups in our community that can use our support. Recently we donated $500 each to four local foodbanks (Milton, Burlington, Oakville, Georgetown). We also donated $500 to Chai Life-Line Canada which helps children with serious or life-threatening diseases. Another donation of $500 was made to the Red Cross for wildfire disaster relief in Australia as well as a $500 donation to the Australian World Wildlife Fund.
Again, this year we continued our sponsorship of the Children’s Hospital Activity Book. This book is given free of charge to children who spend considerable time in a local hospital. It is filled with puzzles and activities to keep the children busy while recovering. We also continued our work with Medical Missions International (MMI) by collecting sunglasses, glasses and dental supplies donated by our members. All donations can be sent to our office or dropped in the box at socials and PL activities.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, all awards have been cancelled for the 2019-2020 school year. Please keep well and be safe.
Donna Bethune – Awards, Goodwill, Gifts and Donations Committee Chair
Collective Bargaining Report
When COVID-19 hit, ETFO realized that strike action was not something that could continue. They then bargained with the government and OPSBA to get the best possible solution. Although the deal was not what we wanted it was the best that could be achieved at the time. Finally after 6 strike days and many months of waiting a Central Deal was achieved. Once that happened your local team jumped into action to achieve a local deal. Your team of myself along with Brad Boehmer, Daliah Brown, Nicole D’Angelo and ETFO staff officer Susan Ansara began meeting with the board. We already had our Preliminary Submission ready and approved by members. We started meeting with the hopes that a quick deal would happen, however, we were not prepared to settle for an inferior deal so we held strong. We had dates up to and including June 25th with the understanding that if no deal was reached we would continue in the fall. Once a Local deal is achieved then the board has 30 days to pay out any retroactive pay. Think of that retro pay as a forced savings account and you will receive it eventually. The longer we wait the more it will be.
Communications Committee Report:
This school year I’ve had the pleasure to serve our members for my second year as Communications Officer. In this role I keep our website Haltonot.ca current and produce the Fall and Winter Newsletters that are mailed out to all our members. Our newsletter contains very valuable information for Occasional Teachers as well as articles, which I thought would be of particular interest to you.
The newsletter serves as a reminder of upcoming events both professional and social in which you might like to participate. Keep it handy as a reference tool and refer to it for professional learning and other activities planned for you. Dependent care is also available for some professional activities. Items dealing with pertinent policies and statements from ETFO have also been included to keep you abreast of all that is relevant to you. I wish to thank Grace Boogers, once again, for many of the lovely photos that I am able to include in the newsletter and in the gallery photos of the website.
Daliah Brown compiled the “Monthly Planner” which you received in the fall. Since the planner comes out in the first mailing at the end of September, we include the months of September and October in the publication to get you started each year.
Our website is also a quick way to gain information. We have made very good use of our Secure Section of the website this school year, posting the most current Collective Bargaining bulletins as we received them. You can also find the OTIP corner in the Membership Resource section and a specific PL section for forms such as dependent care, PL book and individual subsidies.
I have found my work with the Halton Elementary Occasional Teachers Union to be dynamic and exciting, especially this school year. This upcoming school year with the new normal, whatever that may be, will be interesting and I will be sure to keep everyone informed with our many modes of communication from HEOT.
Jacquie Tancoo, Communications Chair
Health and Safety Committee Report
Once again this year, we have a site-based system, as the Board dissolved the Health and Safety Committee. Depending on size, each school has 1-2 worker reps and 1-2 management reps who are responsible for all matters related to health and safety in their buildings. As a result of this move, HEOT has lost its voice in matters related to health and safety throughout our system. We have filed a grievance and it is now at the arbitration stage, which can take a couple of years to resolve. We will also attempt to deal with this issue at the bargaining table. To help us stay informed, Nicole D’Angelo represented HEOT at two meetings this year, where health & safety issues and best practices occurring in other Boards were discussed. In October, she attended a provincial meeting called SHOTs (Safety & Health for OTs). HEOT is pleased to be hosting SHOTs in the fall. And for the last few years, Nicole has taken part in Golden Horseshoe Health & Safety Meetings. She attended in November, but unfortunately, the May meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19. What Should You Do if You are Injured at School? You need to complete a confidential Employee Incident Report (EIR), even if it is a minor injury or a near miss. Completion of this report is absolutely vital for all injuries, no matter how small. Please note that there are two types of EIRs: EIR-A: use if your injury involves aggression or violence EIR: use for all other types of injuries, such as slips, trips, or falls It is important that an EIR is completed in case your injury worsens and a WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) claim is needed. What might appear to be a minor injury could become a bigger one a few days (or even months) later. Be proactive and protect yourself! The forms are now completed online using myhdsb. See the school office staff if you need assistance. After you complete your portion of the form, there is another part for the school administrator to complete. Make sure to keep a copy of the EIR for yourself and please send a copy to Al Bero, as the Board no longer informs the union of all OT EIRs
Do you get keys and swipe cards each time you go into a school as an OT? Believe it or not, this is guaranteed by your Collective Agreement, Board policy and Ministry directive. When you sign in at a school, make sure that you are provided with keys and swipe cards so that you are prepared. Just think, if the school is in the middle of a lockdown and you have no keys to secure your classroom, you and your students are at risk! If the school is unable or unwilling to provide you with keys or swipe cards, please notify Al so that this situation can be rectified. Also, please remember that it is your responsibility to return keys and swipe cards to the school office at the end of the day—don’t forget!
When you are outside with students, you are responsible for their safety and care. Please be diligent in your supervision and ensure that Kindergarten pens are locked and secure, so that no children can run away and be unsupervised.
All OTs will also receive a half day’s pay in June for completing all of the required health and safety training on ESS (Employee Self Service portal). Health and safety are everyone’s responsibility. If you see an unsafe situation, you have an obligation to report it to one of school’s health & safety representatives. Please don’t hesitate to contact Al at the HEOT office if you have any health and safety concerns.
For more information, check out etfohealthandsafety.ca
Al Bero, Nicole D’Angelo
Political Action Committee Report
With the current political climate and job action this year, our local thought it was important to become more politically active. We encouraged members to proudly wear Cuts Hurt Kids, Class Size Matters, and OTs Make #ETFOStrong buttons and Red for Ed on Fridays.
Brad Boehmer attended PAROTs (Political Action/Public Relations for OTs) in October, which is an annual meeting with other OTs from across the province. HEOT will be hosting this meeting in the fall.
Brad, Nicole D’Angelo and John Spry represented our local at the ETFO Provincial Lobby Strategies Training in November. They learned skills to help them engage members and best practices for lobbying MPPs in response to the harmful cuts to education.
Nicole and Brad were scheduled to attend another Political Action conference in January, which was cancelled due to job action.
Nicole contacted her MPP Stephen Crawford through letters and phone calls and she was successful in arranging a meeting with him, which was unfortunately cancelled by his office at the last minute.
HEOT collaborated with members of the Halton Teacher, DECE, and OSSTF-OT locals to form a joint Political Action Working Group for Halton educators. They met several times to plan various shared activities.
Nicole helped to organize a rally at MPP Stephen Crawford’s office on February 7. There was a good turnout of passionate educators representing HEOT, the Halton Teacher & DECE locals, OSSTF and OECTA.
The joint working group also planned a Solidarity Social for April 2, which sadly had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
Thanks to everyone for your support during our job action and to all of our Executive members, as well as HEOT members Megan Andrews, Rick Bloemeke, Grant Davidson, Grace Boogers and Jill Haskayne for serving as picket captains.
The next Provincial election will be very important to the future of education.
Check out the following on social media to become more involved:
ETFO Political Action group
Ontario Education Workers United group
Ontario Families for Public Education page
Status Committee Report:
The role of the Status of Women is to raise awareness, inform and educate on behalf of girls and women everywhere. Thinking globally, the committee acts locally to make our workplaces, unions and communities safe for, and inclusive of, girls and women. In September, HEOT executive members participated in the annual Take Back the Night Event hosted by SAVIS of Halton. This anti-violence event is held annually to raise awareness of the rights of women and children and their right to walk safely alone at night. This year’s event was held in Oakville and participants helped raise the profile of women’s rights in Halton. I urge our members to support this event and join in the walk next September. This year in October, we launched a new project for the 2019/2020 school year in support of The Burlington Food Bank. The project was introduced at our Fall Dinner Meeting with guest speakers from both The Burlington Food Bank and The Gift of Giving Back. Members were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the meeting and/or make a monetary donation. At this time we also announced and shared that the picture book, Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt would be donated to each elementary school library. Also, for the school libraries that already had a copy of Maddi’s Fridge, the junior paperback, Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate was donated. These initiatives proved to be successful. In the month of December our Local continued its participation of adopting a family through Halton Women’s Place for the holidays. Our family consisted of a mother with three young children this year. We were able to purchase many items from her wish list as well as donating food vouchers for a festive dinner. This, as always, proved to be a very heart-warming experience for us and we hope we were able to make this season a little happier for that family. March gave our Local an opportunity to promote International Women’s Day in Halton. A short quiz was posted to our HEOT website with the goal of informing our membership of this important date in history with particular emphasis on what was happening in Canada. This year one of our members provided us with a unique opportunity by sharing information about a number of accomplished women in the field of music with connections to Halton. Thank you to Katie Kirkup for her research and assistance with the quiz! Participants that responded were awarded an opportunity to participate in a draw to win a ticket to the Dinner Party. Our Local also supported the international Women’s Day Dinner sponsored by SAVIS. The keynote speaker was Dr. Lauryn Oates, Human Rights Activist, Champion of Education for Women in Conflict Zones and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipient. Truly this was an inspiring evening. We were extremely fortunate this year to receive funding from ETFO provincial to purchase an additional table of tickets for the Women’s Day dinner and we were able to award these tickets to ten of our lucky winners from the online Quiz. It was a lovely evening to share with our members! Most importantly, in addition to sponsoring two tables for this event, the executive, on behalf of our members, donated $800 to the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan organization. This is a non-religious, non-political, federally registered charity with the goal of advancing education for Afghan women. These funds will be used specifically to train two Afghan teachers. In March, we were to also hold a Book Club evening to discuss the title, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Thirty members received the book in December to read in preparation for the discussion. Questions for consideration were shared online, however, due to the quarantine, the Book Club was postponed for the fall. Later in May, I attended a Status of Women training session online via ZOOM and had the opportunity to network with other Status chairs from across the province. This session highlighted activities that are hosted by other Locals and was a great source of ideas for our Local to consider. Stay tuned for new opportunities to join your colleagues in initiatives that advance and enhance the rights of women in Halton. Mary Kebalo-Plata – Chair – Status of Women, Equity and Social Justice Lending Library Committee Report: Our Lending Library contains more than 600 titles dedicated to the sole use of our Occasional Teachers. The Lending Library resides in the front foyer of our office and is accessible only via email or by a sign-up sheet provided at PL Events. Currently, however, sharing of resources is closed at this time due to the quarantine. Once facilities are functioning normally, requests can be made by e-mail to email@example.com or sent to the HEOT Office (no phone requests will be accepted). Fill out a request form downloaded from website www.haltonot.ca. Be specific about your numbers and your titles. Notification will be sent via HDSB email or email provided stating when pickup is ready or when resources have been sent to you at your school of choice. Resources are very expensive and we endeavour to purchase good quality materials for you, adhering to the curriculum as closely as possible. Replacement costs are posted in our catalogue should the book be damaged. Over the last two years we have experienced incidents where the “returned” books did not reach our office. Please be aware that when books are borrowed, you are responsible for the replacement cost if it is lost in transit. The lending library is also investigating how to move forward in ways that might benefit our members during this difficult time. Donna Bethune, Mary Kebalo-Plata – Lending Library Committee Wellness Committee: Our fourth annual HEOT Wellness Day was postponed due to quarantine. Committee Members: Donna Bethune, Gay Ahmed and Mary Kebalo-Plata
Social Committee Report:
It was wonderful to connect with fellow Occasional Teachers this year. We had a great variety of events with good turnouts for Occasional Teachers as well as guests.
The year started with our traditional Meet and Greet at our office. It was a nice way to catch up and to see the office and classroom.
We tried a new event in the fall at Hane’s Corn Maze. It was very entertaining trying to navigate the 12-foot-tall, 22-acre maze with clues. It was also a great fundraiser for juvenile diabetes. It was extremely challenging but it only took us over an hour to achieve our goal.
We had an interesting, interactive event at Longo’s called Stroll, Shop and Cook. A chef walked us through the store, shopping for various foods and then we created several delicious dishes. We were able to have a lovely meal afterwards.
In December we had our annual Festive Open House. We had some refreshments and chats while also donating to the Food Bank and Medical Missions International.
We went to Film.ca to see a variety of new releases in January. A contribution to Angel tickets was made by HEOT which provided for those who can’t afford a fun night out.
There was an impressive NHL alumni game in Hamilton. We had some good entertainment with the game as well as an obstacle course and figure skating show. The game was put on to support children with cancer.
A group of us met at an Escape Room later on that month. We had a choice of three different rooms where we had an hour to work together and to use clues to find our way out. It is a really enjoyable, cooperative activity.
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic restrictions, the musical at Sheridan College and the generic portrait drawing was not able to go on. We are hoping to offer both those events next year.
Our planting session was able to go on over Zoom. It was really good timing for some great tips on Growing your own Food by one of our own members. We were able to get a great start on a vegetable garden. It is wonderful to grow our own food, especially in light of our current situation.
We will also hope to have our Mohawk race track evening next year, along with many other events to reconnect with each other. I wish you a wonderful summer vacation. Hope to see you next year!
Gay Ahmed, Social Chair
During this school year the Constitution Committee was inactive. Our local will do a review of our current constitution to see if any updates or changes need to be made. These changes, if any, will be presented to and approved by our members before being made active.