Report of the Secretary-Treasurer to the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, August 21-22, 2012
The report to the Annual Board serves as a summary of the past year and provides a glimpse into planned activities for OTF for next year. In starting this report, I looked back to some statements from my report last year at this time …
In Ontario, we’ve been highlighted as an education success story – partly attributed to the positive relationship between teacher organizations and government. As a result, OTF has been invited to meet many international visiting delegations, including my recent invitation to present to a delegation from Norway. A large delegation from China earlier in the year was particularly interesting; China is clearly looking outward at a time when a country such as the United States is looking increasingly inward. Earlier in the year, I was also interviewed for a report being prepared by a professor at Harvard for the OECD on Ontario’s success. As the world looks to Ontario and its education system, we have been invited to meet with teacher and education leaders and have been candid about changes in Ontario – including both positive changes and issues of concern such as the continued focus on standardized testing. This voice and these relationships cannot be taken for granted.
Ah, how times have changed. The election of a Liberal minority government in October 2011, the commission and release of the Drummond Report, the provincial budget, the release of GSNs, election promises related to extended faculty programs, the LeSage review, and the JSPP consultations were each incredibly significant events changing the landscape of education in Ontario and the teaching profession in potentially profound ways. These changes make predictions for the coming year no less challenging but far less optimistic.
This past year has been a busy one for OTF. First, OTF is again undergoing change. Last year at this time, we said goodbye to senior staff member, Kathleen Devlin. Leaving us at the end of August is Jeff Holmes, Director of Pension and Economic Affairs.
Jeff joined the OTF Secretariat in 2003. As our resident pension expert, Jeff has worked with the Government and OTPP, the OTF pension committee, the Partners Committee, outside organizations, OTF’s actuary and pension legal counsel. He has represented OTF’s interest admirably. Jeff has also had responsibility for the OTF staff pension plan and, of course, the Parry Sound Campground – which he has visited as often as needed regardless of whether or not it was mosquito season. He too will be missed, not just for his sense of humour but also his seemingly endless knowledge of trivial information one will likely never need but might find interesting nonetheless. I hope Governors will get an opportunity to say goodbye to Jeff over the course of the meeting and we’ll be sure to recognize him during our Retiring Governors’ Dinner.
Governors are well aware that Scott Perkin joined our staff in January of 2012 and has been working with Jeff on the pension portfolio and has shadowed Lindy Amato and Cyndie Jacobs on various parts of their portfolios. The duties formerly performed by the Director of Policy and Public Relations were divided this year among myself, Scott Perkin, Lindy Amato and temporary staff. Starting in September, duties will be re-assigned among senior staff and myself. Temporary staff will assist as necessary and possible.
Although OTF’s core responsibilities remained the same this past year, our Professional Learning Program has been winding down. We still have limited funds for the program from the Ministry grant provided in 2006. With those funds, we are completing any outstanding components on previous programs and are offering OTF Connects, our online learning vehicle for groups of teachers on particular topics. We were able to offer a limited number of summer workshops this summer with remaining funds. Reports on OTF’s Professional Learning Program appear later in this report.
The Faculty portfolio was especially busy this year. The OTF/OADE conference, Social Media and Teacher Learning attracted a record number of participants. The 20 faculty visits ensured OTF’s presence at all the faculties. The additional effort with respect to the pre-service program this year, however, was as a result of the direction from the Government to move to an extended pre-service program. This required significant consultation among the parties.
As Governors are aware, OTF interacts in many ways with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). There is a detailed description later in the report of OTF’s activities with respect to the College this past year. It has been eventful to say the least.
Last year, this report spoke of the “new normal” with respect to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). Each year, whether a required filing year or not, we seem to be increasingly busy addressing matters related to teachers’ pensions. Aside from the ongoing work of the pension committee, partners’ committee, partners’ consultative committee, demographic task force, and the communication work group, the decision by the partners to invoke the Hearing Officer Process this spring required considerable time and effort. More detailed reports on matters related to the pension appear later in this report.
In terms of pension governance, it was also a busy year in that we undertook a thorough search, including short-listing and interviewing multiple candidates, before we brought the recommendation to the Board last year to appoint Patricia Anderson to replace outgoing Director Louis Martel. Two directors will be up for re-appointment for two-year terms commencing January 1, 2013 and Governors will deal with related recommendations later in the meeting. The Executive has passed a resolution supporting the re-appointment of Eileen Mercier as Chair.
For the rest of the report, click here - PDF.