Report of the Secretary-Treasurer to the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, August 21, 2018
While this report will primarily summarize the activities of the year which has passed, no doubt our collective thoughts are on the year ahead. Despite this report which looks “back,” it will be incredibly important that OTF and the Affiliates be effective voices for the teaching profession in the year ahead; today’s meeting launches OTF into a period of uncertainty and the teaching profession into a school year that will, no doubt, be challenging.
The 2017/2018 year was a busy and successful one for OTF and this report identifies the main activities of the Federation over the year.
At this meeting, we will hear the report of the Auditors and we will hear from representatives of the OTPP. Guests from other organizations such as RTO and CTF will speak at the meeting as well. Education Minister, Lisa Thompson was invited to the meeting to bring remarks. We have invited special guest speakers who will be very engaging – world-renowned Canadian cave diver, Jill Heinerth and Michael Adams and Derek Leebosh from Environics.
Since we are starting a new year, that means we need new pictures to update the OTF website! The Board and Executive will be asked later today to assemble for the updated photo which we will try to have done as quickly and painlessly as possible!
The past year saw no change in terms of OTF staff. Our core work continued along with many professional learning projects made possible by Ministry funding. This report outlines the many elements of OTF’s work over the period and I want to thank OTF’s staff, the contract staff we bring in to support the PD work and special projects, along with the dozens of teacher experts we draw on for our “by teachers, for teachers” conferences, webinars and institutes. All of this work demonstrates true professional collaboration within the teaching profession and it is appreciated as much by OTF as it is by the teachers who participate willingly and eagerly in the programs.
The big change for OTF this past year was our office move and, six months in, it has proven to be very successful. Most Governors have seen our new office space, which we share with QECO, and it is meeting our needs very well. Over the long run, the cost effectiveness of shared space will prove to be an excellent decision as well. Most Governors have seen the new office, either at an orientation or during the social event in April. We also hosted an open house for those involved in the project and for our neighbours in the building.
During a Board meeting last year, we sought input from Governors on several topics; that input was summarized and reviewed by senior staff and the OTF table officers. There were several tangible and practical suggestions which we will make every effort to adopt and incorporate. Several related to communications and outreach are already in the works. A suggestion that fiduciary training for the Board ought to be done once every two years was also made and we will make that a regular feature at the Winter Board meetings every two years. Governors, on average, would appreciate a chance for an OTPP orientation (or a refresher) every three years and they also appreciated the OTF orientation/office tour at the same time. There were suggestions for orienting new governors and for how information for meetings is shared with Governors. Governor feedback about the OTPP orientation content will be shared with OTPP and we will get to work on arranging the next orientation session with them for this year. Governors told us they would like to see more attendance at the Pension Forum. Governors were keen to hear interesting speakers at Board meetings on timely topics and we kept that in mind for this meeting as well.
Although it is not ready for this meeting, we are changing the Executive/Governor secure login on the OTF/FEO website to make it more user-friendly and much easier for those Executive members or Governors who prefer to go paperless for meetings. Our intent is that it will be functional for the Winter Board this year.
Each year, we see turnover in the Executive and Board but this year is unusual with very little change. We will be saying goodbye to Théophile Rwigimba and François Boudrias from AEFO and we will welcome two new AEFO Governors, Gabrielle Lemieux and Francis Bourgon. People will be taking on new roles, however, and this meeting represents Chris Cowley’s final meeting as President. Chris’s dry wit and ability to respond to office emails in the form of a pun is unparalleled – and will be missed. It was a year with good news in terms of the pension valuation and Chris, representing Ontario’s teachers, ensured that OCT fees did not increase with his compelling presentation to Council. Since OTF is not involved in collective bargaining, Chris maximized teachers’ interests in the only “pocketbook” issues that arose through OTF.
Of course, Diane Dewing will step into the role of President at the conclusion of this meeting and we look forward to welcoming her to OTF. Diane also gets to take over the OTFPres twitter handle; Chris has built up a good following, Diane, and we’re sure you won’t disappoint! Diane will be President in a year of a new Government, a new Minister of Education and likely some other challenges, but remember that proverb, Diane, “May you live in interesting times.”
The coming year represents an important milestone for OTF; OTF turns 75 in April 2019. As a result, starting with our Winter Board in January and running to our Annual next year, we will acknowledge that with a 75th logo, some special mementos and we hope to have a recognition event to coincide with our Spring Board so stay tuned for our plans to celebrate.
To read the full report, click on annual report.