Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Changes to Canada Pension Plan

If you started receiving a pension before December 31, 2010 and you remain in the work force you will not be affected.
However, starting in 2012, if you are between the ages of 60 and 70 and work while receiving a CPP retirement pension, you should be aware that:
  • if you are under 65 and work in Canada while receiving a CPP retirement pension, you and your employer will have to make CPP contributions
  • between the ages of 67 and 70, you can either make contributions or opt out.  If you make contributions, so must your employer
  • these contributions will increase your CPP retirement benefit through retirement
  • if you start receiving your monthly CPP pension in January 2012 or later, your monthly benefit amount will decrease by a larger percentage if taken before age 65; you no longer need an interruption in work to be eligible and you can drop a longer period of low/zero earnings from the calculation of your retirement benefit.
Note that if you are nearing retirement age, CPP security benefits are not provided automatically - you must apply for them and retroactive benefits are generally limited to no more than 12 months.
For more information visit or call 1-800-277-9914

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Write-off for Driving can be a Tricky Road

Excerpted from Financial Post, October 22, 2011 - written by Jamie Golombek, CA, CPA, CFP, CLU
If you drive to get to work, you're probably well aware that you can't write off the cost of getting to and from work as a legitimate employment expense.
Under the Income Tax Act, employees can only deduct amounts personally paid for travel if they are "ordinarily required to carry on the duties of the office or employment away from the employer's place of business or in different places" and their employer does not reimburse them for those expenses.
In addition, you need your employer's acknowledgement on a certified Form T2200 that you were indeed required to pay those expenses.
Recently, the CRA was asked whether a school board should be issuing Form T2200 to employees who are substitute teachers to allow them to deduct motor vehicle expenses incurred when travelling to the various schools under the board's jurisdiction.
The board, in its letter to the CRA, stated that it does not require its employees to have a driver's licence nor does it reimburse substitute teachers for any mileage or vehicle expenses with respect to travel to the various schools. It acknowledged, however, that it's not uncommon for the employee to receive short notice with respect to the teaching assignment and have only 30 minutes to reach the assigned school, implying that without a vehicle, it may be impossible for a teacher to reach the designated school in time.
While an employer is required to certify on Form T2200 that the necessary conditions of employment have been met, the employer is not required to actually determine whether the expenses are tax deductible. That being said, the CRA stated that it would only expect an employer to issue the form "where an employee has reasonable grounds to make such claims."
One of the conditions to make such a claim is that the employee was ordinarily required to carry on the duties of the office or employment away from the employer's place of business. But where is a substitute teacher's place of business?
The CRA stated that when a substitute teacher is hired by a school board to teach at any one of the schools under its jurisdiction, the employer's place of business is considered to be the particular school at which the substitute teacher has been assigned to teach on any particular day.
As a result, since on any given day a substitute teacher is assigned to one particular school, the requirement to work away from the employer's place of business is not met and thus the teacher can't claim any travel expenses nor should the board certify Form T2200 for its substitute teachers.
Curiously, a judge in a 2009 case found a substitute teacher's travel expenses to indeed be deductible because the employer's place of business was the board offices and not the "individual schoolrooms that [he] attended from day-to-day."
Clearly the CRA has not accepted this decision, which was heard under the informal procedure of the Tax Court and, as a result, is not legally precedential.
- Jamie Golombek, CA, CPA, CFP, CLU, TEP, is the managing director, tax and estate planning at CIBC Private Wealth Management in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


$ Money
Pizza, drink, trips, fundraising, photo money...this is where a class list is handy.  Duplicate a copy of the list.  Check off the child's name. Use one column for the amount of money received and another column for the permission form etc. Immediately send the money and forms to the office and buzz to let them know that these are on their way. Leave the duplicate checklist for the Teacher.
Yard Duty
Be on time or early. Cut your class short to allow ample time to get the class ready (primary classes in winter can take ten minutes or more). If anything happens before you get out, you could be held accountable. After recess, double-check the playground for stragglers.
Take frequent headcounts during the day. If there's a fire drill and no class list, at least you'll know how many children you should have. Verify your head count numbers frequently during any class trips.
Bus Trips
You need at least three class lists: one for you, one for the school and one for the bus driver. Young children should have identification tags. Adults should have a list of the children in their care. Ensure children are safely seated on the bus. Take a headcount. Note the name of the bus driver, the bus company, the bus number and any identifying features of the bus - they all look alike in a parking lot.  Clarify the pick up time and place with the driver. Take frequent headcounts during the event. Bring grocery bags for children to stow their own hats, mittens etc. Allow for a bathroom break before you go on any trip.
Staff Room Manners
Pay for coffee if there's a fund. Wash your cup and wipe up spills. Ask before partaking on "treat day" though many staffs will offer.  If you're there often, bring in a treat for staff - your effort will buy much good will.  Never participate in discussions about students, other teachers, programmes, schools, parents, volunteers, etc. You are a professional.
Support Staff
E.A.s, secretaries, custodians etc. are invaluable. Try to establish and maintain a good rapport with all school staff.
The Facilities
If you can't wait to use the facilities, contact the office, librarian etc. to cover your class for a moment. Never leave the class unattended.
It's very difficult to keep on schedule but again, never leave a class unsupervised, especially if you are the one on the move. If you arrive to find a class unattended, make a personal note in case something comes up at a later date.
Ask for identification and check with the office before releasing a child to an adult. Visitors to a school are supposed to check in with the office before going to the class or out to a portable. Better to be safe than sorry.
Professional Attire
How we dress doesn't make a difference in how well we teach, but recent studies in the business world have prompted Fortune 500 companies to move from "casual" attire to "business casual" attire. We work actively with children so our attire must be comfortable and versatile, but first impressions do count.

Thank you to the organizers of the SMART Board workshops offered yesterday at Wilfrid Jury P.S. Over 118 participants attended 9 workshops focusing on various SMART Board topics and all that can be accomplished with them.
Upcoming Professional Development 
Boutique Style Professional Development, offered on Tuesday November 22, 2011 at the OT Offices, 521 Nottinghill Road, Suite 8 in London will focus on The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades.  As a result of overwhelming demand, we are pleased to offer another session on Tuesday November 29, 2011, also to be held at the OT Offices, from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM.  A light supper will once again, be provided to those attending.  Space is limited. Please Register by email - by noon Friday November 25, 2011.


At the scenic ELM HURST INN, 415 Harris Street, in Ingersoll from 4:30 - 7:30 PM on Thursday, November 24, 2011.  Please register by email - as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Should You Be A Volunteer?

Many new Occasional Teachers wonder if volunteering in the schools will help them obtain more occasional work.
Should you give away your years of training and considerable expertise for free? Does providing such services at no cost encourage the school boards and the ministry to properly fund education or does it send a different message? Only you can decide whether volunteering is right for you. You should be aware however, that whether you volunteer in a school or in your community, such activities are outside ETFO's mandate to protect it's members. Accordingly, any legal issues that might arise would be your own responsibility.
For that reason, ETFO frequently warns its members about volunteering for activities which are not connected to teaching assignments, and which involve potential legal risks. These activities may include coaching a sports team in the community, home instruction, driving families or students to social or sporting events on weekends or after school, camping activities with students or community members, or other similar activities. All these activities involve the teacher as a community member in his or her individual capacity, not as an ETFO member performing the daily work of teaching.
Yes, it can be difficult establishing yourself as a new Occasional Teacher.  Marketing yourself through word of mouth, handing out business cards, talking to principals, secretaries, and permanent Teachers, as well as doing the best possible job in you occasional teaching is essential.


November is a very busy PD month with the following events:
  1. SMART Board Workshops held at Wilfrid Jury Public School, 950 Lawson Road in London. Tuesday, November 15th 4:30 - 7:30 PM  Light Dinner and Drinks provided.  Twelve workshops focusing on various interests and skill levels are being offered.  We ask that you select 3 - we will try to accommodate your first choice where possible. Please visit to view descriptions of the 12 workshops being offered so you can make your selections.                 
  2. Boutique Style PD on Tuesday, November 22, 2011.  Your Local is proud to host a series of after school workshops limited to 15 participants per session.  Workshops are held at our OT Offices, 521 Nottinghill Road, Suite 8 in London and a light supper will be provided.  The Daily Five Boutique: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. An Introduction and Overview - Keeping abreast of current teaching practices is important for all Occasional Teachers. This crash course for the uninitiated will introduce members to the 'Daily Five' approach to creating independent literacy learners in the classroom. 
Register for both events by email -

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ETFO Destination AQs and other Opportunities for Members

ETFO is pleased to offer another exciting option to their AQ course offerings - Destination AQs. Consider gaining an AQ qualification as you study in:
France:  French as a Second Language Parts 1,2, and Specialist
Greece:  English as a Second Language Parts 1,2, and Specialist
Italy:      Kindergarten Parts 1,2, and Specialist
Spain:    Special Education Parts 1,2, and Specialist
Offered in July 2012, these courses are comprised of 60 hours of online instruction and 40 hours of face-to-face instruction occurring in the destination country.  For details, please visit the ETFO website at  Registration deadline is December 1, 2011 but these are filling fast. Let ETFO AQs take you somewhere unexpected!  For more information, please contact Nancy Baldree, extension 2247  at the provincial office.


Back by popular demand, SMART Board Workshops will be offered by the Local after school on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at Wilfrid Jury P.S.,  950 Lawson Road in London.  Workshops will run from 4:30 - 7:30 PM and a light dinner will be provided.  Register by email at indicating preference by order.   These are very popular workshops so register early to avoid disappointment. Registration closes at noon - November 11, 2011. Details on each session will be posted soon on our website.

We call them Boutique PD Events because they provide professional development of smaller interest and are limited to 15 participants per session.  Workshops are held after school at our OT Offices at 521 Nottinghill Road, Suite 8 in London and a light supper will be provided.  This year our first boutique will be offered Tuesday, November 22nd. The Daily Five Boutique: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. An Introduction and Overview - Keeping abreast of current teaching practices is important for all Occasional Teachers.  This crash course for the uninitiated will introduce members to the 'Daily Five' approach to creating independent literacy learners in the classroom. Register by email at


If you would like to mingle with your peers and have a say in what your Local is doing, be sure to attend the Fall General Meeting and Banquet at the picturesque Elm Hurst Inn and Spa just off Hwy 401 in Ingersoll, November 24th, 2011 from 4:30 - 7:30pm.  Enjoy a wonderful Christmas Buffet Dinner of Carved Roast Top Sirloin of Beef au Jus, Roast Ontario Turkey with Apple & Sage Dressing and gravy, Whipped Potatoes, Sweet Yams and a Vegetable Medley. Mediterranean Vegetable Strudel will also be offered for any vegetarians.  Please register at by noon November 17, 2011.  There is no charge for members but 24 hours notice is required to cancel your spot or you will be charged for the cost of the meal.
In keeping with the spirit of the season and mindful of the plight of children in our own community, we will  once again, be collecting donations for Merrymount's Family Support and Crisis Centre. We ask that you  consider their wish list and to bring a donation to the meeting: Warm pyjamas, winter coats and snow pants, hats & toques, pants, shirts and sweatshirts, socks, underwear, all sizes, mittens (waterproof), winter boots and shoes, gift cards, movie passes, new books, art & craft supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, new toys for birthdays, holidays, non perishable food items.
Hope to see you there!