Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Infection in Pregnancy - Minimizing the Risk in Schools

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario recognizes that protection of our members is our primary responsibility.   Women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant should be aware that the school setting provides a unique risk for exposure to infectious diseases, particularly those associated with early childhood. 
ETFO believes that knowledge is the key to minimizing any risk.  Through collective bargaining, member education, and political action, ETFO makes every effort to safeguard members.  However, there are infectious diseases, Fifth Disease being the prime example, where total protection cannot be guaranteed.
For that reason, we continue to seek protective language for pregnant members through our local collective agreements.  ETFO is actively lobbying for legislative change that will recognize the unique nature and health hazards associated with educating young children.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant seek guidance from your physician.  As an example, the doctor can administer a blood test to confirm if an expectant mother has immunity or is susceptible to Fifth Disease.
Check out our lending library for a very informative booklet to inform you of specific health issues that could affect your unborn child. 

  • Upcoming designated full- day paid PD event at Althouse College on April 8, 2011.  Don't forget this is a full day event and in order to be paid, registration must be for either a full-day session or a morning AND afternoon session.  Omittance of a half-day session, whether am or pm does not comply with the Board's requirement and will result in the registrant not being paid!
  • Ontario College of Teachers Fee Payment. Teachers must pay an annual membership fee to remain in good standing with the College.  This year the membership fee has been set at $120.  This fee is tax deductible as a professional membership fee.  The fee MUST be paid by April 15th.  The penalty for late payment is $250.
  • Retired teachers, don't forget to save 1 (one) teaching day for June 30th, 2011.  This day will represent completion of the mandatory on-line training modules that all  Occasional Teachers must complete and which will be available on-line via the Employee Portal. Once, competed and all necessary requirements for these modules have been met, you will be paid on June 30th. 
  • Your Intent to Remain on the List will be available in April and must be completed by April 30th.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ministry of Labour - Safe at Work Program

Unfortunately, in today's world, we are at times,  faced with challenging and even violent threats against our person.  It's important to know what is available should you find yourself facing any such situation.
Changes to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) strengthen protections for workers from workplace violence and address workplace harassment and came into effect in June 2010.  These define workplace violence and harassment and describe employer duties, and apply to your workplaces.

Under the Bill 168 amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act -

Workplace violence means:
  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
  • An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker
  • A statement or behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.
Workplace harassment means:
  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. This may include bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phone calls.
Domestic violence measures:
  • Employers who are aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence may occur in the workplace must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker at risk of physical injury.
Duty to Inform:
  • Employers and supervisors must provide information to a worker about a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour if the worker can expect to encounter that person in the course of work, and if the worker may be at risk of physical injury.  Personal information may be disclosed, but only what is reasonably necessary to protect the worker from physical injury.

Reporting hazards in the workplace is another area the Ministry of Labour has been focusing on with their "Work Smart Ontario" program.  Report all hazards on the TVDSB "Accident Incident Reporting Form" available at every site.
Among other responsibilities (see "My health and safety rights"  on, under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act, a worker is required to:
  • report to his or her employer or supervisor the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device of which the worker is aware and which may endanger himself, herself or another worker
  • report to his or her employer or supervisor any contravention of this Act or the regulations or the existence of any hazard of which he or she knows.
This means if you know there is a problem or hazard with the work you're assigned or if you notice something wrong that could hurt someone else, you have a legal duty to tell your boss.  Do it immediately.  Don't work in the unsafe conditions and wait to tell your boss at break time, that may be too late.  Management is responsible for your health and safety.

April 8th, Designated Full-Day PD at Althouse College

Spots are filling up quickly for this PD event.  Just a reminder that it is a full-day event and you must register for both a morning and an afternoon session (or a full-day session) to meet the Board's  requirement for a full-day's pay.  We understand there is still room in the morning to attend the keynote speaker.
All morning sessions begin promptly at 9:00am. 
All afternoon sessions begin promptly at 1:00pm.
Full day sessions run from 9:00am - 3:30pm.
Parking is provided free of charge on site. 
You can bring your lunch.  The cafeteria will NOT be open for sales.
You can find a map to Althouse College here:

The Board's Mandatory Training Modules will be posted on the Employee Portal and clearly marked as "Mandatory online modules". 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Althouse PD Registration Procedure and other issues

More than five hundred members have registered for the Designated paid day of PD at Althouse College on April 8, 2011, however we're still receiving some enquiries as to how to go about the registration process, so here it is in a nutshell:

1.  Once in the Employee Portal, click on the "Registration Access" icon.  This is on the right side of the page in an oval.
2.  Scroll way down the page to the item that reads:  "Option B of Day 1 Elementary OT PD 2010-11- April 8, 2011".  Click on the box that says: "Register".
3.  Select the session (s) - 1 full-day or 2 half-day, you would like to register for.  To register, click in the circle to the left of the titled session.  For more information on each session, just click on the session you're interested in.
4.  Submit your selection(s) by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on "Submit".  

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to gain invaluable information, explore teaching strategies, gain insight into current topics facing classrooms today and meet many other elementary OTs.  Your Union along with the Thames Valley District School Board  have worked very hard to line up some of the most well-respected experts in their fields.  It is in your best interest to attend this grand PD Event. 

Another question often raised is: When will the mandatory online Training Modules be available?
answer:  The Board's mandatory training modules are not yet available online, however they do not have to be completed until June 30th.  NB: the completion of the online modules counts as if you taught on June 30th, so retirees must reserve one day.     

Likewise, your Intent to Remain on the List must be done by April 30th.

Other upcoming events: 

The Spring General Membership Meeting scheduled for May 26, 2011 at the Best Western Lamplighter Inn.  There is no charge to members.  Please register online to

Check your LTO contracts, mistakes happen.  Let us know if we could be of assistance.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not in Category A4 Yet? Apply to QECO yearly!

Why? We all know that rapid change in education is a constant and many of the factors that affect your QECO category placement can change just as rapidly.  These include:

  • Ongoing recognition of new acceptable academic institutions, both domestic and abroad
  • Changes that affect the acceptability of some course providers
  • Changes with the increase in Additional Qualification course providers
  • Legislative changes which can all have an influence on teachers' upgrading routes. 
QECO strongly urges all teachers who have not yet reached Category A4 to formally apply for upgrading advice or for re-evaluation on a regular basis - each year - to ensure they are following the most direct route to a higher category.  This advice is particularly important to teachers whose academic qualifications were obtained outside of Ontario.
  Remember too that requesting regular upgrading advice can only be of advantage to a teacher - it is easy and you cannot adversely affect your progress or status by asking for advice!

For more information and to apply, visit: