Newsletter October 2011

Hitting the Ground Running!

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

It is only October and it seems like we have never been away!

To Glenda Shepherd (WTA Administrative Assistant) , Henry Shyka ( WTA Business Agent) and Nathan Martindale (Vice-President and Negotiations Chair), I would like to extend a special thank you. The office is a busy place at the start of every school year and to drop on top of that the contract ratification process calls for a great deal of additional effort. The process this year was smooth and occurred in a timely manner. Much of the success of this can be linked to the efforts of these three individuals.

We need you as individuals to keep sharing your concerns with the WTA office. You can phone us at 831-7104, email or fax 837-9698. Your issues need to be put on the record. The Vice-President and I will also be visiting elementary schools in the months of October and November to hear directly from staffs regarding the Math CAP or any other issue. We know it is a busy time of year, but we would encourage you to attend the meeting when it occurs. Listen to your school announcements and check with your WTA representative for the date and time of your school visit.

The Association has already spoken with trustees in September about a number of CAP concerns. Through the contract negotiation process a committee will be struck with the division to provide another mechanism to share concerns and encourage change within the system related to CAP. We will also be speaking with the Superintendents’ Department and Trustees on the issue in the months to come.

It is not the job of the school council representative to interpret contract language or board policy. It is also not the job of these members to attend meetings as the “WTA “representative in the building. If there are questions regarding interpretation or a requirement to have a WTA representative at a meeting, contact the office immediately. (831-7104)

First Seven Weeks on the Job

Nathan Photo

By: Nathan Martindale, Vice-President

Looking back on the first seven weeks of my new position of Vice-President, I can honestly say that it’s been a little bit of everything and overall a very busy start to a new job!

My first official day was August 22nd, and I was jet-lagged after returning from Europe the night before (a planes, trains and automobiles story!). From August 22nd to 25th I attended the MTS Summer Training Seminar in Winnipeg attending a variety of sessions, including: Running an Effective Meeting, Workplace Health and Safety Training, Public School Finance 101, and Servant Leadership. Attendees were also presented with an economic and collective bargaining update from across the country and province.

On August 26th, our local bargaining situation kicked into high gear when the Division sent the WTA Office a Memorandum of Settlement. The Negotiations Committee met on August 30th, to review the document before recommending that the memberships accept it. The week before school officially started, the office team worked quickly to ensure that our members heard about the new proposed contract from the WTA first. On September 2nd (the Friday before the long weekend), Dave and I hand delivered the envelopes containing the Negotiations Update to the Division courier.

I was thrilled to announce the new contract proposal on the first day of school!

My next task was to ensure that Council Policy regarding contract ratification was sent to each location, along with the ballots. The WTA office was very impressed with the high turnout for the ratification vote – counting the ballots took the better part of the day on September 20th. The WTA Membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new collective agreement.

By the time you read this newsletter, we have announced that the Board of Trustees has ratified the new collective agreement (at their Board Meeting on Monday, October 3rd). You also have been made aware that the Division has indicated that back pay and the salary increase should be in place for the last pay period in October. As soon as we are informed of the dates that the salary increase and retroactive pay will be reflected on member’s paycheques, we will inform you.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the WTA Office Team – Glenda, Henry and Dave for offering advice, assistance and direction during the bargaining and ratification process. I could not have performed my duties as Chair of Negotiations without them! I would also like to thank Joan Fransen and the Negotiations Committee for spending a great deal of time and energy working on the new Collective Agreement.

At the same time as the bargaining situation was unfolding I also began scheduling school visits. With over 80 locations within our Division, there are a limited number of days that visits can be scheduled. Dave and I look forward to visiting each of the locations during the course of the year. I went on my first school visit last week and enjoyed being able to connect with members in person.

As my teaching background and experience is at the elementary level, I accepted the responsibility of being the WTA liaison on CAP. As such, I attended the Division’s Math CAP Training Sessions that were held the last two weeks of September. I attended one session from every grade group, six sessions in total. My role was to observe the sessions on behalf of the WTA. I took a great deal of notes and had a chance to talk to members regarding their thoughts on the training sessions. I have also spoken with many members on the phone regarding CAP, and I encourage all elementary teachers to phone me at the WTA Office (831-7104) or email me at with your feedback on the training sessions as well as the new Math CAP Implementation. It is important for the WTA to hear ALL feedback, whether it be positive, negative or somewhere in between.

I consider it a privilege to serve the WTA Membership as Vice-President and I will continue to work hard on your behalf.


Teacher Welfare

By: David Harack, Teacher Welfare Committee Chair

Here we go again, the school year is well underway and we are all busy and engaged in our teaching! Hopefully you were all able to rest, relax and recharge during the summer ready to get back to business! I would like to introduce myself and my role as your WTA Executive member; my name is David Harack and I will be chairing the Teacher Welfare Committee. This will be my third year serving as chair and I can’t wait to review your school’s Wellness Grant Application. In the past few years, our members are really getting creative about ways to engage staff in Wellness. As a matter of business, let me outline the process for those applying for funds.

The Teacher Welfare Committee’s duty is to review grant applications. The process for applying for funding is as follows: download and print the grant application from the WTA website Then fax the sheets to Attention WTA TWC Chair at 837-9698. The Committee meets roughly once a month to discuss, review then vote on each application, after this meeting School PD Chairs or contact person will be notified via email on the status. Funding is not necessarily guaranteed as it is a decision by committee, but schools may appeal the decision, which usually involves faxing a letter with further information, or a phone call followed by email whereby the committee will review it again. Make sure you have the most current application form, as it is an ongoing/ever-improving process, with changes being made. Make sure you get your application in prior to your Wellness Initiative, and that the criteria is followed, things such as ensuring your initiative is Wellness driven and not Professional Development and that the event does not involve out-of-town travel. These funds are provided to WTA members to promote Wellness and Welfare.

Again our profession can be extremely stressful and we need to take care of ourselves be it a healthy walk at lunch, healthier foods choices or simply getting a good night’s rest (easier said than done), it’s time to increase your Wellness! Hopefully many schools will take advantage of this grant and increase their core well-being, decrease their stress and generally be happier. I know it’s a big undertaking, but the more effectively we deal with stress-the better educators we will be! So make this your year to get healthier, make some small changes, because the Wellness Journey begins with one step and then you just keep going. I look forward to serving you this year on executive and can’t wait to see what initiatives your school comes up with!

Lastly, to get a hold of me please use this email, and I will gladly answer any questions you may have. The following are the Committee’s meeting dates for the year:

  • October 18th
  • November 21st
  • December 12th
  • January 23rd
  • February 13th
  • March 19th
  • April 23rd
  • May 22nd
  • June 11th

Wellness Tips: Increase your water intake, being dehydrated can make you feel tired. Going for a brief walk at lunch (even if it’s down the halls), can reduce stress and give you more energy! Take time to stretch every now and then-it will increase blood flow to your muscles.

Start your wellness journey and remember small changes add up!

Ray Stoyko 2011 Memorial Scholarship Recipient
– Garrett Clark

Garrett ClarkGarrett Clark is entering his fourth year in the integrated education program at the University of Winnipeg. He is majoring in History with a minor in French and hopes to teach high school upon completion of his degree. In this, his final year of university, he will be student teaching at Kildonan East Collegiate. Both of his parents work in the school system, which inevitably leads to daily discussions on education at the dinner table. Outside of school, his passions include spending time at the family cottage in the Whiteshell, travelling and cheering on his favourite team, the Blue Bombers.

What’s in a name?

If you have to speak to staff in the Payroll or Human Resources Departments at the Division or if you have inquiries with Manulife, please take a minute to request the name of the individual on the other end of the line. Sometimes our members encounter problems, or have questions about the information they receive. When this happens, we can better help you resolve your difficulty if we know to whom you’ve spoken.

Electoral Units Absent from the September 12th, 2011 Council Meeting: Machray, Montrose, Mulvey, Norquay, Niji Mahkwa, Adult EAL, COTE, Dufferin, Grant Park, Prairie Rose, Substitutes, Wellington, William Whyte and WAEC – 700 Elgin Avenue.

Deadline for November Newsletter Articles is: November 2nd, 2011.

Manulife Information

The following information is provided from the Manulife Financial Group Benefits Admin Update Q3 2011

Orthopaedic shoes: New requirement for claims after January 1s, 2012
Manulife has been monitoring market trends and fine-tuning their practices to ensure they pay claims consistent with the intent of the benefit. They just completed a review of orthopaedic shoes and found that many vendors are promoting off-the-shelf walking or sports shoes as orthopaedic. In response to this market trend, they are making some changes to manage utilization and prevent abuse or fraud.

What’s changing?
The following is a summary of the information required for all claims for off-the-shelf medically necessary orthopaedic shoes. The only new requirement is #2, the manufacturer’s name and the brand name and model number of the shoes or boots. This information should be provided with a completed and signed Extended Health Care Claim form.

From a physician:

  1. the diagnosis of a medical condition and a prescription for shoes or boots as treatment for that medical condition.

From the supplier of the footwear:

  1. the name of the manufacturer, and the model name and/or model number of the shoes or boots.
  2. details if the shoes or boots:
    • are attached to or part of a brace or
    • have been altered/adjusted by the supplier for the specific medical needs of the wearer, including a description of the alterations.
  3. details of all costs, with costs for the footwear shown separately from costs for any alterations to them.
  4. the date the shoes or boots were picked up from the supplier.
  5. the original sales receipt showing the date and method of payment.

Starting in November Manulife’s explanation of benefits statements will carry a message to flag the change to plan members making orthopaedic shoe claims their Customer Service Centre team will also be explaining the claims changes to members calling in.

Open Enrolment Opportunity

The following information is provided from the Manulife Financial Group Benefits Admin Update Q3 2011

The Trustees of the Manitoba Public School Employees Group Life Insurance Plan are please to provide you with an opportunity to increase your Group Life Insurance coverage without providing proof of good health.

  • An open enrolment window will be available in November, 2011.
  • You will be able to elect additional coverage of one or two times annual earnings without proof of health if you apply during the window. If you elect more than the additional two times earnings, proof of good health will need to be approved for the excess.
  • The additional coverage is at your cost. To figure out the additional cost take your monthly pay times .12% for one time or .24% for two times.
    • For example, with a $5000 monthly salary, the additional cost is $5000 x .0012 = $6.00 for an additional one time earnings ($60,000 extra coverage), or $12.00 for two times earnings ($120,000 coverage).
  • New coverage will take effect on January 1st, 2012, or on your return to active work if you are not working.
  • Those on:
    • Disability Income Plan for Officers and Employees (other than teachers) of The Winnipeg School Division, or
    • Manitoba Teachers’ Society Disability Benefits Plan, or
    • An unpaid sick leave at November 1st, 2011 will not be eligible.

Further details and enrolment materials will be available to you on the Bulletin Board of Employee Connect in a few weeks. Please watch for them. In the meantime please consider your needs for additional insurance.