Benefits

While our contract does not give us benefits, it does include $3.64 per day in lieu of benefits (Article 16.01).  Unfortunately, that doesn't buy a whole lot.  If in a good year you teach 100 days, that will give you a monthly budget of $30.33 for benefits, which quite frankly won't even pay half of the monthly fee for a single person to buy a very restricted guaranteed issue benefit plan.

So what are your options?  If you don't have access to benefits through a significant other, you'll have to purchase your own.  There are a few options here:
  • Purchase full benefits
  • Purchase a "guaranteed issue" benefit plan
  • Trillium Drug Program (Ontario government drug coverage)
Purchasing full benefits: A full benefit plan (medical, dental, drugs) is your best option, but there are two main caveats.  First, a full benefit plan can be expensive.  You can expect to pay anywhere from $80-$400 per month depending on your age and whether you need single, couple, or family coverage.  Second, if you have any pre-existing conditions, you'll have to disclose them on a medical questionnaire and coverage for those conditions may be denied.

Guaranteed issue plans: A guaranteed issue plan does not require a medical questionnaire, and your pre-existing conditions will be covered.  Guaranteed issue plans are also relatively inexpensive, starting at about $63 per month for singles.  Unfortunately, guaranteed issue plans offer very low caps on their coverage, such as $500 per year for prescription drugs.  However, if you're relatively healthy, a guaranteed issue plan can give you some supplementary medical coverage at relatively low cost.

Trillium Drug Program: The Trillium drug plan is offered by the Ontario government to people with low incomes and high prescription drug costs.  Depending upon your income, they establish an annual deductible, and once your prescription costs go over that deductible, Trillium kicks in and your prescriptions will only cost $2.00.  You can sign up for the Trillium drug program even if you have another benefit plan; if your plan doesn't cover 100% of your drug costs, you're eligible for Trillium.  Trillium is a very good option for occasional teachers who have regular prescription expenses.


Often forgotten: Travel Health Insurance

If you choose to rely on OHIP and Trillium alone, then you should still purchase a travel health plan.  If you ever leave Canada, even just to cross the border for shopping, then you'd be crazy not to purchase a travel plan.  Travel health insurance is very inexpensive, and if you ever experience any medical needs while outside Canada, it can easily pay for itself thousands of times over.

Unless you're planning a particular trip of a long duration, your best option may be to purchase an annual multi-trip plan.  A plan offering an unlimited annual number of trips up to 15 days in duration will cost you less than a hundred dollars per year for a single person, and less than two hundred for a family.


Where to buy benefits?

Ontario teachers have a unique option available to them for purchasing insurance.  The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) is governed by a board of trustees with representatives from each of the teacher federations (ETFO/OSSTF/OECTA/EAFO).  Because of this, OTIP offers products exclusively oriented towards teachers, and operates part of its business on a non-profit basis.
OTIP offers a full line of products from health and dental to home and auto insurance.



Counselling Support

If you're in need of counselling support, you can call COAST Niagara 7/24 for help and information at 1-800-263-4944.  The Niagara Health System and Niagara Region Public Health also offer a wide variety of group sessions that can be very helpful.  There is also a list of Niagara resources here.