Newsletter January 2015

President’s Message

BY: Nathan Martindale, WTA President

Happy New Year! It’s funny how our lives are ordered by external and artificial calendars. One of these calendars recently marked the end of an old year and the start of a new one. For some people, this resulted in well-intended New Year’s resolutions. For others, it represents a fresh start, whether in one’s personal life or work life.

I spoke with a teacher last week who told me that her favourite month of the year was January. I asked her if she was joking, as most teachers would pick June or even September as their favourite month for various reasons. She went on to say that she was serious and her rationale was that both staff and students return to school in January after a much needed two week break. Everyone is somewhat rejuvenated and there is energy in the air, and she relishes the opportunity to harness that energy in a positive manner.

A different calendar that has governed my daily schedule for the past three and a half years is the WTA Calendar, and even though it’s only January, it’s already time to start planning for the 2015/16 year. The biggest piece of this planning is the upcoming WTA Executive Elections.

I remember serving as a Council Representative and being approached by the Chair of the Executive Nominating and Elections Committee to let my name stand for a position on the WTA Executive. I had been keenly aware and interested in the business reported at Council meetings but had not considered taking the next step.

Seven years later and I am half-way through my first year as the President of the organization. I only point this out to emphasize the fact that you don’t need decades of experience to take a more active role in the WTA. If you are even remotely interested in the idea of being a part of the Executive, I invite you to speak with a member of the current Executive after a Council meeting or contact them using the information on thecontact page. Ask them about time commitments, chairing committees and other facets of serving. For more details you can also check out the information in this issue of the WTA newsletter.

If you aren’t quite ready to take the leap to the Executive, another way to get involved is by serving on a WTA Committee. Watch for information in a future WTA newsletter about this. In the meantime, check out theannual reports page to read about the work of the committees during the 2013/14 school year.

For more information please call the WTA Office at 204-831-7104.

New Year’s Resolutions

By: Kristin Insull, WTA Vice-President

Happy New Year and welcome back!

While we are conditioned to think of September as the start of a “new year”, the beginning of a new calendar year can come with a sense of renewed energy for improvement – whether it be at work, home, or both. What promises have you made for yourself at the start of 2015? Wellness is multidimensional – encompassing not only the physical and emotional, but also our states of occupational, social, financial, and spiritual wellbeing. As teachers, and members of the WTA and MTS, we are fortunate to have a number of supports available to us.

Physical Wellbeing – Fitness

Tips for Success

  1. Choose activities that you enjoy. Physical fitness doesn’t have to be a chore!
  2. Switch up your activities! You will eventually get bored if you do the same thing every time.
  3. Make yourself a motivating playlist. Include guilty pleasures that psych you up, like maybe David Foster’s ’88 Olympic Theme, or the theme from Rocky.
  4. Be accountable. Find a friend, an app, smart device, or all three that will help you keep on track.
  5. Be kind to yourself. Change takes time. You are no doubt very busy already, and finding time to take care of yourself can be a challenge. It’s worth the effort!

Did you know that MTS members are eligible for discounts at a number of facilities in the City of Winnipeg? The full list of discounts, and details on how to access them, are available for viewing at Here are the current listings for fitness facilities:

Anytime Fitness (Lindenwoods, Lorette and Ness Ave locations)
Aspire Fitness (3501 MacGillivray Blvd)
Birth Roots Doula Collective
Curves Manitoba
EverFit Boot Camp Fitness (Cordyon Community Centre)
GoodLife Fitness
Higher Level Fitness (in the Exchange)
Pro(Ag)gressive Fitness Centres
Shapes Fitness Centres
Studio 26 Hot Yoga
Yoga Public

In addition to these opportunities, the Winnipeg School Division offers discounted passes for City of Winnipeg Facilities. Details are typically available in schools in the Fall.

Physical Wellbeing – Nutrition

Tips for Success

  1. Take the time to meal plan. Find recipes that generate leftovers for nights that you are too busy to cook. Portion out fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese, almonds, crackers, etc, in advance. Make good use of that slow cooker!
  2. Don’t skip meals. Teaching requires a tremendous amount of energy, and the food you eat fuels your day.
  3. If you know that you are often pressed for time at lunch, pack lunches that you can eat while you multi-task. Avoid lunches that require heating to avoid lines at the microwave.
  4. Take the time to meet with a Registered Dietician. Manulife offers up to $500 ($850 after March 1) coverage per calendar year for active members. A registered dietician can help you find your way navigating the sea of nutritional advice, aisles of grocery stores and Pinterest boards. You do not need a doctor’s referral to access this coverage.

To get you started, here are some ideas that have worked well in the Insull household:

Breakfast – Apple, Cinnamon, Raisin and Brown Sugar Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats, also known as Irish Oats, are a good source of protein and fibre. They are more chewy than rolled oats. Unless the possibility of cross contamination exists, steel cut oats are gluten free and are cooked in a ratio of 1 cup dry oats to 3 cups of water. Add in 4 chopped up apples, a ¼ cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it is the desired texture. Two cups of dry oats makes breakfast for six days for two people. Supplement your bowl of oats with a boiled egg for a little extra protein. We make a big batch on Sunday evening, and breakfast is done for the week!

Lunch – Mexican Quinoa

Generally speaking, we prepare two different lunch options on Sunday evening. One is kept in the fridge, and sent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the other is frozen after it is cooked, and brought out Wednesday evening in preparation for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Mexican Quinoa – Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, iron, and fibre and is naturally gluten free.
In a sauce pan, combine:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 minced jalapeno
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kernel corn
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Cilantro and chopped avocado make great additions to this dish. This recipe makes enough food for six lunches.

Emotional Wellbeing

Make no bones about it, teaching is a difficult job. On any given day, in addition to teacher, you play the role of police officer, judge, guidance counselor, and parent all before O’Canada is even done playing. The emotional aspect of teaching can take its toll, and it is imperative that you take care of yourself, and ask for help before it reaches crisis level.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society offers free counseling to members through their Educator Assistance Program. Services are not limited to school-based issues. You can seek help for personal and relationship issues through the EAP. All it takes is a phone call to set up an appointment. 204.837.5801.

Manulife also offers coverage if you wish to see a Psychologist. Coverage is for up to $500 ($850 after March 1) per calendar year.

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, and there are many options to help get you on track and healthy.

Financial Wellbeing

The WTA hosts Pre-retirement Seminars, and a Mid-Career Planning Seminar, to help answer questions you may have as you plan your career path. In addition, MTS members are eligible for discounted services through Centum Mortgage Solutions, The Co-operators Insurance, and the Union Members Mortgage Planning Team.

It would be nearly impossible to address all the dimension of wellness in any depth within the scope of a short newsletter article. The paragraphs above were intended to provide you with some information about services you have access to, as well as some inspiring words to move forward on your own path to wellness. Healthy teachers are happy teachers!

Information on the 2015 Election of the Executive of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association

An election will be held to fill the following WTA Executive positions:

President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and 9 Members at Large

Nomination Deadlines:
March 1, 4:00 p.m.: deadline for candidates to inform the Chief Returning Officer of an intention to run.
March 10, 4:00 p.m.: deadline for receipt of nominations supported by the signatures of ten members.

If you are interested in running for an Executive position in the Association, contact the Chief Returning Officer at:
The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association
202-2639 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3J 0P7
Telephone: 204-831-7104 / Fax: 204-837-9698

Election Process:
Interim slate of candidates: presented at the February 17, 2015 Council Meeting. All candidates election speeches: held at the March 18, 2015 Council Meeting. At this meeting the election packages (ballots, voter register signature sheet & election bios) for each school are picked up by Council Representatives.
Election: an election by secret ballot will be held in schools on Monday, April 13, and Tuesday, April 14.
Ballots: returned in sealed envelopes to the Chief Returning Officer at the Council meeting held April 20 or to the WTA office no later than 4:00 p.m. on April 22. Ballot counting will be completed April 23.

What is the WTA?

The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association represents all teachers, including substitutes, clinicians and lab assistants in The Winnipeg School Division. The Association negotiates for its members with the Winnipeg School Board. The WTA actively supports the well-being of all members through various committees such as Teacher Welfare, Professional Development and Public Relations.

Who can be an Executive member?

Any member who indicates their willingness to run for election to the Executive when the call for nominations goes out. Candidates may be asked to speak at the Election Forum during the March WTA Council meeting. The new Executive year begins on June 15th.

What will I do if elected?

All Executive members attend a retreat/workshop to become familiar with current issues and to determine (based on interest and experience) which committee they will Chair and/or sit on. There are committees which require less time and are ideal starting points for new members.

What is the time commitment for an Executive member?

There is one Executive meeting per month. The meeting starts at 4:30 PM and run between two to four hours (supper is served.) There is one Council meeting per month commencing at 5:45 PM. Committees meet at times determined by their mandate, or need, and can vary from two to three times per year to once a month.

What do I get out of it?

Some rewards are extrinsic. Members are reimbursed for travel to Executive meetings and for dependent care. The opportunities for Professional Development are many and all are encouraged to take advantage of them. Substitutes are paid for by the Association when individuals attend PD opportunities. Some rewards are intrinsic. Members of the Executive play an important role in achieving improvements in the working lives of teachers. They gain an insider’s view of the politics; negotiations and goals of those involved in education throughout the Province. Executive members know that they have helped all their colleagues by serving their Professional Association.

Is that all?

No. You will get to work with a group of fun-loving, hard-working, supportive people who may soon become a group of trusted friends.

o, you want to be an AGM delegate?

BY: Michelle Wolfe, WTA AGM Committee Chairperson

Here is what you need to know:

  • The Annual General Meeting of the Manitoba Teacher’s Society takes place at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg from May 21-23, 2015
  • All delegates must attend all sessions
  • All delegates must attend a preparation session beginning at 4:30 on May 7, 2015 at McMaster House.

AGM highlights:

AGM is where the Society business is conducted by delegates from all over the province. Resolutions dealing with bylaws, constitution, and policy are debated. The budget and MTS membership fee for the following school year are set and Provincial Executive members are elected.

Delegates’ substitute costs, meals, accommodations, parking, and dependant care at the hotel are paid for by the Society.

There are social functions planned to allow delegates to get to know each other both within their association as well as network with members from around the province.

Delegates wanted:

If you have served as a delegate before, we look forward to seeing you again. If you have not, find someone in your building who has and talk to them about the MTS AGM, or call Michelle Wolfe, WTA AGM Committee Chairperson, at Lord Nelson School: 204-586-9625; or

See you at AGM 2015!

Improvements to the Manulife Extended Health Benefits Group Plan

The WTA Group Benefits Committee is pleased to announce improvements to the Manulife Extended Health Benefits Group Plan 98240, effective March 1, 2015.

The following benefits will be improved for Class A and D members.

Class A members are WTA members and Community Liaison Officers under the age of 65. Class D members are WTA members and Community Liaison Officers over the age of 65 but not retired and collecting a pension from TRAF.

Cardiac Rehabilitation costs will be covered to a maximum of $300 per person every 2 calendar years. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $300 per person for their lifetime.

Non-Emergency Ambulance costs will be covered to a maximum of $500 per person per trip. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $250 per person for their lifetime.

Paramedical costs will be covered to a maximum of $850 per person per calendar year. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $500 per person per calendar year. Paramedicals includes acupuncturist, audiologist, chiropractor, dietitian, naturopath, osteopath, podiatrist/chiropodist, psychologist and speech therapist.

Massage costs will be covered to a maximum of $850 per person per calendar year. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $600 per person per calendar year.

Foot Orthotics costs will be covered to a maximum of $500 per person every two calendar years. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $400 per person every three calendar years.

Other Medical Equipment costs will be covered to a maximum of $500 per person for their lifetime. This is an improvement over the current maximum of $300 per person for their lifetime.

Navigator (Health) Assistance will be an added benefit. Navigator is a one-stop, integrated resource centre including:

  • Access to world-class doctors for second opinions
  • Health and wellness, tips, tools and resources
  • Medical condition information.

It’s easy to access, reliable, current and is supported by both web services and a member care centre. After March 1, access Health Service Navigator online at or call 1-800-875-1264, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Another benefit will be improved specifically for Class D members beginning March 1, 2015.

Class D members are WTA members and Community Liaison Officers over the age of 65, but who are not retired.

Emergency Travel Assistance will be unlimited for trips out-of-province and country for up to 30 days. This is an improvement over the current travel health benefit maximum of $2,500 per person per calendar year.

Another benefit will be improved specifically for Class B and H members beginning March 1, 2015.

Class B members are WTA retirees and Class H members are Community Liaison Officer retirees. Navigator (Health) Assistance will be an added benefit. All other benefits for Class B and H will remain the same.


Improved and new Classes A and D Benefits after March 1, 2015 Maximums
Cardiac Rehab $300/person/2 calendar years
Other Medical Equipment $500/person/lifetime
Non-Emergency Ambulance $500/person/trip
Paramedicals $850/person/calendar year
Massage $850/person/calendar year
Foot Orthotics $500/person/2 calendar years
Navigator (Health) Assistance Added
Improved Class D Benefit after March 1, 2015 Maximum
Travel Health Unlimited (30 day trip duration)
New Class B and H Benefit after March 1, 2015 Maximum
Navigator (Health) Assistance Added
Unchanged Classes B and H Benefits after March 1, 2015 Maximums
Cardiac Rehab $300/person/lifetime
Other Medical Equipment $300/person/lifetime
Non-Emergency Ambulance $250/person/lifetime
Paramedicals $500/person/ calendar year
Massage $500/person/ calendar year
Foot Orthotics $400/person/3 calendar years

Maternity, Paternity and Adoptive Leave Seminar

The Group Benefits Committee of the Winnipeg Teachers Association is conducting a seminar on Maternity, Paternity and Adoptive Leave.

The seminar will take place starting at 4:30 p.m. on February 10, 2015, in the McMaster House Auditorium, 191 Harcourt Street.

The facilitator will be Nancy Kerr, MTS Staff Officer and WTA Business Agent. Information will be shared on EI benefits, sick leave and SUB Plan Benefits.

If you are interested in attending the seminar, please fill out the registration form here. The registration deadline is February 3, 2015, one week before the seminar.

2014-2015 WTA Pre-Retirement Seminars

If you are 48 years of age or older and a WTA member, you can register for a WTA Pre-retirement Seminar.

The date of the seminar is 5:00 p.m., March 24, 2015.

Deadline for registration is March 10, 2015.

Please e-mail Michael Krauss at for your TRAF authorization number and process for registration.

Distinguished Service Award

Deadline for Application February 15, 2015

Each year the WTA is able to honour an individual through the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award (DSA). The person can be an active WTA member (recipient of the DSA) or a non WTA member (recipient of the Honourary DSA). The basis for receipt of the award is “Major involvement and/or contribution to the Association.” A detailed nomination form can be found here. Please consider nominating someone for the award.


Ray Stoyko $4000 Memorial Scholarship

The successful applicant will receive $4000 towards full-time enrollment in a Bachelor of Education degree program. The application deadline is the last teaching day of May of each school year. Completed application forms are to be returned to The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association, 202-2639 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3J 0P7 A copy of the detailed application form can be found here.

Ray Stoyko (1952-2007)

Ray Stoyko was elected the President of The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association in April, 2007. Prior to his full-time involvement with The Association, Ray taught English and Drama at Kelvin High School. He had a passion for the classics—both in literature and in art. He was a great supporter of local artists, including a number of his colleagues. As much as Ray had a passion for the arts, he had a greater passion for his profession—teaching. He was a true educator that instilled his love for literature and the arts into the minds of his students. Ray encouraged students to reach for the potential he knew they possessed.

Ray’s passion and dedication continued into The Association and for his fellow colleagues. One of his priorities for this organization was communication and member engagement. He knew that as the world and Winnipeg School Division were change/evolving—so must The WTA. Ray knew the importance of The Association. He believed in The WTA and for what it stands.

When Ray was the Chairperson of the Public Relations Committee, he advocated for and instituted the first WTA scholarships, awarded to a graduating student from each Winnipeg School Division High School. These scholarships continue to be awarded annually.

Ray was very proud to be the President of The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association. He was known as a quiet, intelligent, quick-witted, and thoughtful man. The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association is pleased to offer this scholarship in honour of his service.


Fab 5 Call for Submission

The Fab Five Conference for Teachers in their First Five Years

Wednesday, October 21st (evening) and Thursday, October 22nd, 2015


Each fall for the past six years, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society has offered The Fab Five – a set of inspiring and practical workshops and networking opportunities for teachers in their first five years of service. The feedback from participants has been extremely positive. Workshops have focussed on topics such as Inclusive Education, EAL Strategies, Classroom Management, Planning for a Substitute Teacher, Working with Parents, Wellness topics and more.

This fall we will again hold The Fab 5 just before the SAGE Conference day so that teachers travelling in from outside of Winnipeg can combine Fab 5 with a SAGE conference of their choice in one trip.

We are looking for presenters willing to share on topics that encourage and support teachers new to the profession. We would appreciate it if you could publicize this Call for Proposals within your Teachers’ Association. Interested teachers are encouraged to complete the the form here and send it to Lia Baksina ( or Linda Thorlakson ( by March 2, 2015.

We will confirm presenters by the end of April. We may not be able to accommodate all submissions in the 2015 program, but we encourage all teachers interested in this opportunity to submit proposals.

Terry Price,
Department Head, MTS Professional Issues Department