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Financial glossary for the education community

12-Month Pay Plan        

A summer savings program that spreads out an educator’s salary over 12 months to provide cash flow during summer break (July and August). Summer months are financed with payroll deductions over the course of the school year.


L’Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles Franco-Ontariennes (ADFO)
ADFO works with Francophone Principals and Vice-Principals of schools in Ontario in order to provide various initiatives that ensure quality in French education.

L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants Franco-Ontariens (AEFO)
AEFO represents teachers who work in the French-Language schools in Ontario.


Bargaining Units             
A group of education members who belong to a particular Collective Agreement.


Union description for a school in Ontario.

Branch President            

An elected union representative from a Branch (school).

Collective Bargaining    
A negotiation of wages and other conditions of employment by the unions.


Deferred Salary Plan (“X over Y” or ‘4 over 5’)   

A plan that lets education members take a leave for an entire school year. The leave is financed ahead of time through a deferral of salary. For example, if an education member takes a ‘4 over 5’, 20% of their annual income is then deferred over a span of 4 years in order to pay for the 5th year ‘off’ (this means over the course of the 5 years of the plan, the education member will be receiving 80% of their annual salary).

District (union)

A subunit of the Union that has autonomy over their own affairs but ultimately reports to the head of the union. (I.e. OSSTF/FEESO is broken down into 32 districts that have control over their own collective bargaining agreements and school budgets—with each district reporting to the provincial assembly).

District Leader 
The elected representative head of a union district.


Education Community  
Consists of teachers, principals, and school support staff.


Education Member        
Someone who is a part of the education community.

Education Support Staff               
Non-teaching professionals that work in the school such as secretaries and custodians.


Elementary School         
A school that offers classes ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in Ontario.


Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
 The professional and protective organization representing over 78,000 teachers, occasional teachers, and education professionals employed in the public elementary schools of Ontario. All public elementary teachers in Ontario are active members of ETFO provincially and are also members of one of its 76 locals across the province.


Financial Literacy            

The ability to understand how money works—which includes: how to earn or manage it; how to invest it (to turn it into more money); how to budget it (in order to prevent spending more than what is earned or go to into debt); how to protect it (from financial scams); and how to donate it to help others.

Gratuity (aka ‘Retirement Gratuity’)     

This is a lump sum of money that is paid to an education member upon retirement in lieu of all accumulated unused sick days over the course of their career (prior to Sept, 1, 2012—after this date, the ability to accumulate unused sick days for payout as a gratuity was eliminated).

Gratuity Taxes 

The amount of tax that is paid by an education member upon receiving a gratuity payment. A gratuity payment represents earned income under the Income Tax Act (therefore it is taxable). However, an education member who has remaining RRSP contribution room may opt to contribute the entire (or a portion of the) gratuity payment into their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (to not increase/minimize their taxable income).

March Break

Each school year contains two major vacation periods ‘Winter Break’ and ‘March Break’. Most students have a week off in March (or April sometimes called ‘Spring Break’ or ‘Easter Break’).

Non-Semester School             

A school (typically secondary) that does not divide its school year into distinct semesters.

Non-Unionized Member            
Someone who is not affiliated with a union but is still a part of the education community.
Occasional Teacher        
 A teacher employed by a school board to teach as a substitute for a full-time teacher.


Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)
The union that represents all teachers who work in Catholic denomination, English-language schools in Ontario.

Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS)
A pension fund created to handle the retirement benefits of government employees, including school support staff, throughout the province of Ontario.


Ontario Principal’s Council (OPC)
An association representing Principals and Vice-Principals in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario.


The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO)     
A union that represents all teachers who work in the public secondary schools in Ontario.


The Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF)              

Made up of four affiliated groups (OSSTF, OECTA, ETFO, and AEFO), OTF represents all schoolteachers in the province of Ontario.


Ontario Teachers’ Insurance Plan (OTIP)              
An organization that serves the insurance needs of Ontario education members.


Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP)
An independent organization responsible for administering defined-benefit pensions for schoolteachers in Ontario, OTPP is one of the world’s largest institutional investors. The plan is a multi-employer pension plan, jointly sponsored by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.


Pay Grid (aka ‘Salary Grid’)       

A document (in grid or table format) that depicts the incremental salary of a teacher based on qualifications and amount of years worked (I.e. the higher the qualifications and years worked, the higher their position on the pay grid—and the higher the salary). Amounts within a pay grid are agreed upon during collective bargaining.

Pension Buyback
 The ability to ‘buy back’ the amount of pension contributions that were lost while on leave—which in turn brings an education member closer to collecting an unreduced pension.


Pension Income Gap
This is the potential gap between an educator’s pension income and the cost of living in retirement. If the cost of living in retirement ends up being more than an educator’s pension income, this is a gap that needs to be identified and filled through financial planning.


Professional Activity Days (PA Days)     
Days that are used by teachers to keep on top of changes that affect their work in order to stay current. This includes everything from attending workshops and conferences, participating in mentoring programs, pursuing self-directed professional development, and undertaking other activities designed to enhance teaching and learning. They then take their new skills back to the classrooms.


Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO)          

An organization that offers programs and services (such as pension support, comprehensive health care coverage, group travel programs, community involvement) for teachers, school and board administrators, educational support staff, and college and university faculty in retirement. Members range in age from as young as 46 to as old as 109.

Did you know: RTO is the only organization with representation from elementary, secondary, public, Catholic, AND francophone schools.

School Board    
Run by publically elected officials known as trustees, a school board is responsible for the financial and organizational operations of its schools.

School Year

Consisting of a minimum of 194 days over a span of 10 months, the (Ontario) school year typically begins the day of after Labour Day in September and finishes at the end of June.

Secondary School           
A school that offers classes ranging from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

Semestered School       

A school (typically secondary) that divides the school year into two halves (semesters)—with students taking different courses in each half.

Strike Fund        

A reserve set up by a union ahead of time and used to provide pay during action (strike).

Summer Cash Flow        

The source (or sources) of income used by an education member during the summer months.

Ontario College of Teachers (OCT)

Licenses, governs, and regulates the Ontario teaching profession in the public interest. Also sets ethical standards and standards of practice, issues teaching certificates (and may suspend or revoke them), accredits teacher education programs and courses, and investigates and hears complaints about members. Teachers who work in publicly funded schools in Ontario must be certified to teach in the province and be members of the College.

Summer Break

The first day of ‘summer vacation’ for public schools is the last Saturday in June. However, students get a Professional Activity day on the final Friday of that school week, and their last day would be on the Thursday. Students can get over 2 months of summer vacation! The last day of summer vacation is Labour Day, and school generally resumes the day after Labour Day (in September).

Winter Break

Each school year contains two major vacation periods ‘Winter Break’ and ‘March Break’. Most students have two weeks off for the Holidays.

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