By Editor

Mar 12, 2020

OCSTA: Tentative Agreement Reached with OECTA


TORONTO, March 12, 2020—We are very pleased that today, following many months of bargaining, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, the Provincial government and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) reached a tentative collective agreement. The tentative agreement reflects the commitment of all negotiating parties to the well-being and progress of all students and staff in Catholic schools throughout Ontario.

Details of the tentative agreement will be shared following ratification. We are appreciative of the efforts of our bargaining team and Crown partners, and the representatives of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association is the provincial voice for publicly funded Catholic education. Founded in 1930, OCSTA represents the interests of Catholic school boards that collectively educate approximately 570,000 students in Ontario, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Sharon McMillan, Director of Communications
Tel: 416-460-7937/E-mail:


Statement from Premier Ford, Minister Elliott, and Minister Lecce on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On March 12, the Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Education issued a joint statement regarding a decision made to close Ontario’s publicly funded schools for two weeks following the March Break to address concerns about the Novel Coronavirus.

OCSTA has issued a memo on the matter to all Chairs and Directors of Education. Below is the government’s statement:


Office of the Premier

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 on publicly funded schools as March Break approaches:

“The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority.

Since we first learned of COVID-19 as an emerging public health issue, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.  We have also taken decisive action to ensure the province’s health care system is positioned to be ready for any scenario.

Given the latest developments both internationally and here at home, today we are taking further action.

Based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education has issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following March break, in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This order was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020.

We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe.

Today’s steps build on a number of actions our government has taken in recent days to respond to COVID-19, including moving forward with additional public health measures, which include enhanced access to screening, expanding lab-testing capacity, and implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe. We are further setting aside up to $100 million in contingency funding in the upcoming 2020 budget to address challenges related to COVID-19.

We are further mindful of those who work in other public institutions and buildings. As this situation evolves, Ontario’s COVID-19 Command Table is prepared to respond quickly and effectively to any scenario and provide the government with advice on measures to keep the public and frontline workers safe.

We are committed to working with partners to keep students safe and we expect to provide further information in the near future.

Our public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to COVID-19 and these measures we are putting in place will ensure that we continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario and thereby protect children and families across the province.”


Legislative Update

Coronavirus Information

On March 2, the Ministry of Health announced the province’s enhanced response structure to contain and respond to the range of outbreak scenarios related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes:

  • A new Command Table to be the single point of oversight providing executive leadership and strategic direction to guide Ontario’s response to COVID-19. The Command Table reports to the Minister of Health. The table will be chaired by the Deputy Minister of Health, Helen Angus, and include Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Heath; Matthew Anderson, Ontario Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer; with representation from Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
  • Five regional planning and implementation tables, led by Ontario Health with support from local public health units, will be responsible for reviewing regional plans to proactively ensure local readiness and implementing provincial strategies in areas such as assessment, testing and care, supplies and equipment, surveillance and communications.
  • The Ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre, also known as MEOC, will continue to provide situational awareness and perform an overall coordination function among the components of the response structure.
  • Scientific Table, led by Public Health Ontario, will support the provincial and regional components of the response structure with the provision of evidence, and scientific and technical advice to inform planning and response.
  • An Ethics Table, led by the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, will assist in providing ethical guidance and representation at both provincial and regional tables to support decision-making throughout the response.
  • Sector or Issues Specific Tables, which would have a specific focus like supporting the coordination of repatriated Canadians or local case and contact management as well as sector-specific coordination such as paramedic services, First Nations health partners and others as needed.
  • Collaboration Table with members from key health sector organizations which will provide advice to the Command Table.

For continuous government updates and Telehealth information visit this government website.

Catholic school boards across the province are implementing safety and response protocols aligned to their local public health units and representative of the needs of their communities.

Provincial Budget

The government announced that the provincial budget will be released on Wednesday, March 25. As is our tradition, OCSTA will be participating in the budget lock up and will prepare a summary of the announcement to be shared the same day with members.



Natalie MacMaster to Perform at OCSTA 90th AGM & Conference

*NOTE: OCSTA is closely monitoring the public health situation with respect to the COVID 19 virus and any potential restrictions on conferences and large gatherings of people in Ontario. At this time, OCSTA has not made any decisions regarding postponing the Annual General Meeting & Conference, scheduled for April 30-May 1 in Ottawa.


Juno Award winning musician Natalie MacMaster spoke at the Ontario Prayer Breakfast back in 2018 and at that event left a lasting and meaningful impression with the many attendees of various faiths who filled the audience. She spoke of her faith journey as a Catholic woman, mother, and wife and shared her gift of music as part of her presentation.

OCSTA is pleased to announce that in celebration of our 90th Anniversary in April, the Association will be welcoming award winning Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster as the closing presenter and performer on Saturday, May 2 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.

The full line-up of sessions and presenters for OCSTA’s 90th AGM and Conference includes:

  • “The Future of Freedom of Religion in Canada”, Justice Peter Lauwers, Court of Appeal for Ontario
  • “Core Governance: The Neglected Relationship Between Trustees and Directors of Education”, Michael Fullan, Global Leadership Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning
  • “Urban School Boards & the Impact of Demographic Change”, Jack Ammendolia, Watson & Associates Economists Ltd.
  • “2020 – A New Decade of Hope!”, Denise Andre, Director of Education, Ottawa CSB and Tom D’Amico, Associate Director of Education, Ottawa CSB
  • “Reviewing and Developing a Board Self-Assessment Tool”, Waterloo CDSB: Bill Conway, Chair; Melanie Van Alphen, Vice Chair, and; Wendy Price, Trustee
  • Closing Session Presenter and Performer: Juno Award Winning Musician, Natalie MacMaster and Family

Register now to attend OCSTA’s 90th AGM & Conference at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa by clicking here.


90th Anniversary Trustee Higlight:

Janice Oldman, Chair, Durham CDSB


  1. What singular experience as a trustee at your CDSB can you share that can serve to illustrate the positive impact of Catholic schools in the community?
    In reflecting back, what resonates with me was the sense of community and joy experienced throughout the year. Events such as the 50th Day of school, the grand opening of a Regional Arts & Media program, our 50th Anniversary celebration, and our Community Picnic and Outdoor Mass which celebrated our students’ talents and gifts, while promoting the success and achievements of Catholic education.Our board’s anniversary was a chance to reflect on the past and the accomplishments achieved in our journey and commitment to Catholic education. These events were opportunities to embrace our mission: We are called to celebrate and nurture the God-given talents of each student as we serve with excellence in the light of Christ.


    I invite everyone in Catholic education to answer the call to serve and continue to nurture the seeds of faith for years to come.

    One of the most memorable events that celebrates Catholic education for me was the Durham Catholic District School Board’s 50th anniversary. During the 2018-2019 school year, students, staff, trustees, parents, community partners and clergy gathered to celebrate the year-long milestone.


  1. What current Good News story about students/Catholic schools at your CDSB would you like to share?The Durham Catholic District School Board together with our Indigenous Education Advisory Circle is enhancing students’ knowledge of Indigenous history and culture. We have created a Student Indigenous Education Advisory Circle that includes Indigenous and non-Indigenous secondary students who planned the board’s inaugural Indigenous Education Student Summit. These student leaders are lending their voices to the importance of raising awareness of Indigenous education at their schools.Recently, our Indigenous Education Advisory Circle invited renowned artist and Indigenous storyteller, Isaac Murdock to one of our elementary schools to share his knowledge of Indigenous culture and consider why we need to take care of the Earth for future generations. Students had an opportunity to paint a mural with Isaac that highlights climate change, while learning to live in balance with Mother Earth.In June, we will celebrate National Indigenous History Month by asking students to reflect on what the Land Acknowledgement, read daily in our schools, means to them. I am excited as our board continues to Walk the Path Together – committed to reconciliation and deepening students’ understanding of Indigenous histories, culture and world views.



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