Federal legislation to raise age of consent
The federal government hopes to protect teens against sexual predators by raising the age of consent to 16.
Young people can consent to sexual activity at 14 now and the law prohibits everything from sexual touching to intercourse with anyone under that age. The age of consent is 18 in cases involving exploitation, where authority, dependency or trust can be breached.
Raising the age of consent targets adults who use the Internet and other new technologies to prey on vulnerable youth. But the government recognizes that Canadian teens are sexually active and has introduced close-in-age exceptions so that consensual sex between teens who are within five years apart in age would not be considered criminal.
By introducing this legislation the Canadian government has underscored its commitment to get tough on adult sexual predators, the Department of Justice Canada says.
Teachers can consult the College's Professional Advisory on Professional Misconduct Related to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct for guidance on the legal, ethical and professional parameters that govern their behaviour and to prevent the sexual abuse of students and sexual misconduct. Professional Advisory on Sexual Abuse and Professional Misconduct.
College members should also consult their employer's policies to ensure that they are familiar with all expectations and obligations that may exist in their workplaces.
College communications staff met at the end of May with representatives of francophone school boards from across the province via the College's recently acquired videoconferencing technology.
"Teachers who must use videoconferencing to teach courses are well aware of the technology's limitations," said College communications manager Philip Carter. "But for consultations like this one, when face-to-face meetings are not an option, these kinds of meetings can be immensely valuable."
"Ontario is a vast province with many remote communities," adds Registrar Doug Wilson. "Videoconferencing is a welcome option and will allow us to make consultations and decision-making processes more far-reaching without increasing the need for travel."
Earth Day Scholarship
Congratulations to Zoë Barrett-Wood of Grey Highlands SS in Flesherton, Mark Ouseley of Ashbury College in Ottawa, Allyson Parker of Cobourg District Collegiate Institute and Jasmeet Sidhu of Heart Lake SS in Brampton - the Ontario regional recipients of the 2006 Toyota Earth Day Scholarship.
Each year this program recognizes 15 environmentally minded Canadian students for their environmental community service, academics and extracurricular activities - awarding $5,000 scholarships for their future studies at a Canadian university or college or a Québec junior college.
National winner Joanna McNeil of St. Peter's, NS was awarded an Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award and a Panasonic notebook computer.
The deadline for next year's scholarship is January 31, 2007. For more information visit www.earthday.ca/scholarship.
Delays hamper Council business
The provincial government's continued delays in filling public appointments to the College Council are having an ongoing impact on the College's ability to regulate the teaching profession in the public interest, says Council chair Marilyn Laframboise.
"Two positions on Council have been vacant since the middle of May," says Laframboise. "This increases the workload of the remaining public appointees and undermines the Council's ability to ensure public input into our deliberations and decision making."
"We are very disappointed that the government has allowed this situation to develop," Laframboise adds. "We have received assurances in the past that Council would not again find itself with too few public appointees and it's disheartening that these promises have not been kept. We are hoping that Minister of Education Sandra Pupatello will move quickly to ensure that Council is returned to its full complement."
The 31-member Council has 14 positions reserved for government appointees, whose function is to represent the public. Every Council committee is required by legislation to have appointed and elected members to make a quorum.
Patrick Slack's three-year term ended on April 30th and Normand Fortin, a French-speaking appointee, ended his term May 13th. Both positions have remained vacant since then.
Three more appointed members will conclude their terms on September 30th. The chair wrote to Education Minister Sandra Pupatello in June to appeal for a full slate of public representatives for the September Council meeting, which will consider proposed changes to the Teachers' Qualification Regulation.
In 2005, eight of 14 appointed positions were allowed to become vacant. At the June 2005 meeting of Council, then Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy apologized to Council for the delay in filling the vacancies and gave his personal commitment that it would not happen again.
VISITORS: Malaysia, China, Singapore
Delegations visit the College to share and gather information on a range of education issues, including accreditation, qualifications and standards of practice.
Teachers' qualifications review
Certificates no longer provisional
Good News: The Ontario College of Teachers will once again issue Certificates of Qualification to graduates from Ontario's teaching faculties.
The provincial government passed legislation June 1, 2006 to repeal the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test (OTQT) and replace it with the New Teacher Induction Program. Now that the paper test is gone as a pre-condition for certification, there is no need for provisional certificates.
With the change in legislation the College has automatically converted all Certificates of Qualification (Provisional) and Interim Certificates of Qualification (Provisional) to Certificates of Qualification and Interim Certificates of Qualification. College members can print an updated copy of their teaching certificate from the private Members' Area of the College web site at www.oct.ca.
The College issued provisional certificates to teacher candidates and internationally trained teachers to enable them to work while they waited to write the OTQT. The test was introduced by the former provincial government and administered by a testing agency in New Jersey. The College simply received and recorded pass results from the test administrator and issued Certificates of Qualification to those who successfully completed the test.
Last fall the current government announced plans to scrap the paper test. The government asked the College to continue with provisional certificates on a temporary basis until the law was changed.
Now, newly certified teachers will receive support through the New Teacher Induction Program. School boards, provincial schools and school authorities will oversee the government-mandated program. Once a teacher completes the program, the employer will inform the College, which will simply record a notation on the teacher's certificate.
TAKE YOUR HORSE TO SCHOOL DAY
ESL students from John English Junior Middle School at a demonstration of English and western riding techniques by their ESL/Special Ed teacher Caroline West and her sister Lisa Desroches, a Grade 4 teacher at Southridge Public School in Waterloo.
This event was part of National Horse Week and an initiative to improve language experience and self-esteem through sports.
Stephen Lewis prints raise funds for AIDS relief
The Peel District School Board is selling limited-edition prints of a watercolour portrait of famed Canadian humanitarian Stephen Lewis. Proceeds go to AIDS relief in Africa.
Artist Jeff Sprang, communications director for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, donated the watercolour to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to mark the opening of Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Mississauga this fall. The school is the first named for Lewis, the UN's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and a former leader of Ontario's New Democratic Party.
Safe Schools recommendations
The Safe Schools Action Team, created by the Ontario government in December 2004 to review the Safe Schools Act, has submitted a 29-page report with recommendations.
The recommendations are categorized by eight themes - prevention, progressive discipline, community and parental involvement, application of the Safe Schools Act, programs for suspended or expelled students, education and training for members of the school community, communication, and the provincial Safe Schools framework.
The recommendations focus on improving student behaviour, developing positive relationships in the community, applying the Safe Schools Act consistently across the province and creating a provincial Safe Schools framework as a resource for schools, families and communities to understand their rights and responsibilities in maintaining safe schools.
The government has said that it will respond to the report in the fall.
The report is available at www.edu.gov.on.ca.
GMAC Great Canadian Writing Contest
Cynthia Louden and Caroline Suzuki can add "published writer" to their Grade 6 resumés after winning the first annual Great Canadian Writing Contest, sponsored by General Motors Acceptance Corporation, in May 2006.
Louden, a student at Manordale Public School in Ottawa, won the regionals with her short story, A Trip Down Memory Lane. Suzuki, of Hunter's Glen Junior Public School in Toronto, won first place in the province with Flying South. Riley Kate McNair, a Grade 6 student at St. Clement's School in Toronto, took second place and Justine Shackleton, a Grade 5 student at West Rouge Junior Public School in Westhill, came third.
The nationwide contest offers Grades 5 and 6 students the chance at publication.
Full contest details are available at www.gmacgreatcanadianwritingcontest.ca.
Green light for new teacher-education program
The provincial government recently granted consent to Wilfrid Laurier University to operate a new faculty of education. The university proposes to start classes in fall 2007 with 90 students.
The proposed one-year consecutive bachelor of education program with concentration in the Primary/Junior division, focusing on math, science and Special Education is subject to accreditation by the College.
In Ontario, there are currently 15 institutions offering a wide range of teacher-education programs. In addition to general programs of professional education, many programs focus on particular needs - native education, French teaching specialization or technology education, for example.
The College's unique responsibility for accreditation of programs at faculties of education gives teachers a significant role in guiding the future of their profession.
Teachers' company moves with the times
The massive turnover in Ontario's teaching population has spurred new offerings by one of the icons of the teaching world.
Teachers Life, a not-for-profit insurance company "created by teachers to protect teachers" has been insuring educators in Ontario for 67 years. But the company is extending its product line to further serve the needs of existing members and those now entering the profession to replace those retiring.
Teachers Life president Douglas Baker, a teacher himself for 19 years in Peel and most recently a principal with Simcoe County, says the company now provides mortgage, critical illness and supplemental coverage plans over and above its group plans.
"New teachers often have new responsibilities, such as new additions to the family or the home," Baker says. "We want to be available to them when they need us."
The member-based organization - its directors are current or former teachers - turns any profit back into product development or into creating new membership benefits.
For more information please visit www.teacherslife.com.
Congratulations to national winner Sofia Hou - designer of the 2006 Canada Day Challenge Winning Poster.
For other winners and information visit www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/affiche-poster.
Congratulations to our winners!
Evelyn Kingsmill of Everett, Ontario, has something terrific to look forward to this year - she's won our grand prize of a trip for two to London, England! A principal at Alliston Union Public School, she has been an educator for 20 years and loves her work.
"Being there for the kids is the thing I like best about my job. The only difference is that I can now also be there for the teachers."
Kingsmill almost didn't respond to our phone message telling her she'd won a prize. "I'd received a slip in the mail telling me how to open an account in the Members' Area and decided to sign up. I guess I entered the contest at the same time."
When her family finally coaxed her into calling us back she was thrilled.
"My husband Gordon and I have two kids in university - one at McGill and one at Western," says Kingsmill. "I thought we wouldn't have the financial opportunity to go away again for quite a few years. So it's absolutely amazing!"
Second prize went to Andrea Hayes of Oshawa: a trip for two (airfare and accommodation) to Vancouver. A math teacher at Anderson Collegiate in Whitby, Hayes recently celebrated her fifth anniversary as a teacher at the school she originally attended.
"I'm teaching with a lot of the teachers who taught me," says Hayes. "And I'm teaching brothers and sisters of students I went to school with."
How does she feels about winning? Andrea says: "I'm really surprised and a bit shocked. I don't enter contests very often and have never won anything before."
Our winners, like all College members who sign up in the Members' Area, have access to exclusive online benefits, including:
"The College does a lot for teachers," says Andrea, "and I feel fortunate that I've received an even greater benefit by winning the contest."
Contest prizes were provided by EF Educational Tours and Air Canada. EF Educational Tours is the industry leader in educational student travel, working hand-in-hand with teachers to give students the very best cultural experience possible. Every EF tour includes flights, ground transportation, comfortable accommodations, most meals and a full-time tour director - all at the lowest price guaranteed.
Premier's awards still in the works
Promising to "celebrate exceptional teachers and the work they do for their students," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans in the government's 2003 throne speech to institute Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence.
No awards have been made yet and the work needed to make the awards is just getting underway.
"The awards are still in development," said Rick Beaver, Manager, Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat, in July. "This just came to us a couple of weeks ago."
Beaver says it is likely that a recognition program for teachers will roll out sometime this fall.
Breakfast for Learning Month - There are many references on Canadian web sites.
8 - International Literacy Day
17 - Terry Fox National School Run Day - 26th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope.
17-24 - Walk for Life Week - Canada's largest HIV/AIDS fundraising and awareness campaign.
21 - International Day of Peace - Highlights the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-10.
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month
Women's History Month
Eye Health Canada Month
1 - International Music Day
2 - World Habitat Day - An day to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter while reminding the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. The theme for 2006 is Cities, Magnets of Hope.
2-8 - National Family Week - A time to recognize and celebrate all the qualities that make families special and meaningful. This year's theme is Nourishing the Family Tree in Our Communities.
4 - International Walk to School Day and Week
4-10 - World Space Week
5 - World Teachers' Day
8-14 - Fire Prevention Week - Public health and safety observance acknowledges the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed 17,400 structures and burned 2,000 acres.
14-23 - National Science and Technology Week - Celebrates science and technology that affect our everyday lives.
www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca (Use the search function to find National Science and Technology Week.)
15-21 - National Dental Hygiene Week - Heightens awareness about preventive oral-health care and dental hygiene profession.
15-21 - Co-op Week - Celebration of Canadian co-operative movement.
15-21 - YWCA Week without Violence - Encouraging realistic and sustainable alternatives to violence.
16 - World Food Day - To heighten awareness of the world food problem, the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
16-22 - Citizenship Week - Recognizes the value of citizenship and immigration with a focus on privileges, rights and responsibilities.
17 - International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - Recognizing the need for a sustained and concerted effort to meet the millennium development goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015.
17-23 - National School Safety Week - Helps primary-grade students become more conscious of traffic safety.
Waste Reduction Week - Emphasizes how each part of society can make a difference in the amount of waste produced across Canada.
18 - Persons Day - Marks the Persons Case and the five Alberta women whose determination led to a landmark victory acknowledging the right for women to serve in the Senate - paving the way for women is participation in other aspects of public life.
23 - School Library Day - Celebrates the special contribution that school-based librarians make to the education of children throughout the world.
23-31 - Red Ribbon Week - Show personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the red ribbon.
24 - United Nations Day - Marks the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations on October 24, 1945.
World Development Information Day - Coincides with United Nations Day to stress the central role of development in the work of the United Nations.
29 - Daylight Saving Time ends - Clocks are turned back an hour, moving an hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.
1 - Take Our Kids to Work Day - Launched in 1994 by the Learning Partnership for Grade 9 students.
5-11 - Veterans' Week and Remembrance Day
15 - International PEN Day of the Imprisoned Writer
16 - International Day of Tolerance - Ten ideas for observing the day are found at www.unesco.org/tolerance/teneng.htm
20 - Children's Day / National Child Day - Activities promote the welfare of the children of the world.
20 - Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day - Observes the birth date of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and our first Prime Minister of French descent (1896 to 1911).
25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - Marks the brutal assassination in 1961 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-61).
1 - World AIDS Day - International day of action on HIV and AIDS, celebrating progress and noting the remaining challenges.
2 - UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - Marks the date when the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was adopted by the general assembly. Last year's site at
www.un.org/depts/dhl/slavery includes titles of interest and links to related UN sites.
5 - International Volunteer Day - Salutes the efforts of those who have made important contributions to society by giving their time as volunteers.
10 - Human Rights Day - Observes the anniversary of the United Nations general assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
www.un.org > Human Rights Day
Amnesty International's Canada site also invites participation in the day through a write-a-thon.
International Children's Day of Broadcasting - A day when broadcasters around the world tune in to kids by airing quality programming for and about children, allowing them to be part of the programming process while sharing information with their peers.
For other international special days, observances and events, visit www.un.org and click on Conferences & Events, to the left of the UN's 60th anniversary logo.