By assisting our members with employment matters, we seek to create positive workplace dynamics.
The employee advocacy services include individual contract and employment rights advice, conflict resolution and facilitation services, legal support for employment-related matters including a mediation and arbitration process, and other employment contract and schedule matters including the annual compensation report.
Through best practices, innovative workplace health frameworks and mutual restorative processes, we seek to assist in building and maintaining a healthy workplace.
The workplace community assistance services include workplace policy development, workplace legislation consultation, Contract Partnership Committee assistance, workplace relationship facilitation and restoration, mental health workshops and workplace health surveys.
By providing workplace-related training, workshops and professional certification, we seek to help you grow in your expertise.
The training and certification services include workplace-related training and other workshops. Vocate is also the certifying body for the Christian School Teachers Certificate (CSTC), which provides training for and recognition of what it means to be a teacher in a Christian school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Recognizing the inherent value and impact of all employees working at Christian schools is the driving force behind the work of Vocate. We exist to provide expert and professional employment services to all employees in order to build and foster healthy workplaces in Christian schools in Ontario and beyond.
Our services are arranged in three specific areas: employee advocacy, workplace community assistance, and training and certification. The employee advocacy services include individual contract and employment rights advice, conflict resolution and facilitation services, legal support for employment-related matters including a mediation and arbitration process, and other employment contract and schedule matters including the annual compensation report. The workplace community assistance services include workplace policy development, workplace legislation consultation, Contract Partnership Committee assistance, workplace relationship facilitation and restoration, mental health workshops and workplace health surveys. The training and certification services include workplace-related training and other workshops. Vocate is also the certifying body for the Christian School Teachers Certificate (CSTC), which provides training for and recognition of what it means to be a teacher in a Christian school.
Up until late 2018, Christian schools in Eastern Canada were supported by three different professional organizations: the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), the Ontario Christian School Administrators Association (OCSAA) and Edifide, previously the Ontario Christian School Teachers Association (OCSTA). The OACS provided advice and assistance to school boards. OCSAA provided leadership and assistance to the principals. Edifide provided employment services and professional development primarily for teachers. In late 2018, these three organizations merged and two new organizations were born: Edvance Christian School Association and Edifide (now Vocate). The organization previously provided services in two areas: employment and professional development. This work was done, primarily, on behalf of teachers in Christian schools. With the creation of the new organization, Vocate now focuses its services in the realm of employment and these services are provided to all employees of Christian schools.
Example 1: A teacher is being disciplined for not meeting the expectation of the school with regard to her work in the classroom. Vocate would represent the teacher in this discipline meeting in order to ensure the teacher’s contractual rights are being upheld and that the discipline being meted out is fair and justifiable. If there are legitimate reasons to do so, Vocate would continue to advocate on behalf of the teacher up to and including mediation, arbitration and legal representation in a court of law.
Example 2: An educational assistant at the school is feeling significant stress and anxiety in regards to Covid-19 and has a child at home who is at high-risk in regards to contracting the disease. We would advise this educational assistant regarding their options which could include the possibility of a mental health leave. If a mental health leave is taken and the educational assistant is fit to return to work, we would assist the educational assistant and the school in their return to work and any potential accommodations that may need to be made in the workplace.
Example 3: The staff and Board are engaged in the Contract Partnership Committee and are seeking advice about the establishment of a tuition rebate for employees at the school. We would assist the committee which could include the provision of data and inform them of various models that a school could put in place.
Example 4: An employee is being terminated. Vocate would represent the employee to ensure their contractual rights are being upheld and that the termination is fair and justified. Depending on the fairness of the termination, we would assist the employee in ensuring that their departure from the school is legitimate but also that any appropriate settlement is put in place.
Example 5: There is a breakdown in the workplace culture at a school and it stems, in large part, from a breakdown in relationship between administration and the staff. Vocate provides the opportunity for the entire staff, including administration, to do a healthy workplace survey. The data is collected, a report is completed and Vocate assists the school in finding a path forward to improve the workplace community at the school.
Example 6: A teacher and an educational assistant have a conflict and it is severely impacting their ability to work together but also having an overall negative impact on staff culture. Vocate provides mediation and restorative practice solutions to help these staff members rebuild relationship.
Example 7: Every year, Vocate works with Edvance to provide the compensation reports for the employees at the Christian schools.
Example 8: A librarian is asking for a sick day to take care of a sick child at home. Vocate advises the librarian as to the legitimacy of this request and informs them of their contractual and legislative rights and responsibilities.
Example 9: An administrative assistant is pregnant and taking maternity leave once the baby is born. For health reasons, the administrative assistant is looking to take early maternity leave. What does this look like? Is she able to? Vocate provides employment rights advice to the employee regarding pregnancy and parental leaves and benefits.
Example 10: With the high stress and anxiety levels due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vocate hosted a series of mental health webinars by Zoom to assist the members in dealing with the stress and anxiety they were experiencing by providing them with some helpful mental health tools. We worked with a professional mental health provider from Ontario on this program.
Example 11: A teacher has a complaint filed against them with the Ontario College of Teachers. Vocate provides legal representation for the teacher for their case in front of the Ontario College of Teachers. This is a new service for us as an organization and last year we had our first case in front of the OCT and successfully defended a teacher and had the claim made against them dismissed.