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Minister praises College for championing the teaching profession

March 30 2015

“As protectors of the public interest, the College plays a critical role in enhancing public confidence in public education.”

That was one of several key messages Ontario Minister of Education Liz Sandals delivered to College Council members at their March 26-27 meeting.

In her address, the Minister spoke about the Enhanced Teacher Education Program, reintroducing Bill 103, the Protecting Students Act, the important work the College is doing with respect to a teacher’s duty to report suspected child abuse and neglect, and the critical role the College plays in building confidence in the public education system.

Sandals commended College members for their commitment to the teaching profession and acknowledged the valuable partnership between the College and the Ministry. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you and your leadership over the last years,” she said. “We would like to thank all of you for your efforts to maintain the high standards of practice and conduct expected of our educators while you continue to inspire public confidence in our education system. Together we are building a strong, publicly funded, early years education system for Ontario. “

The Ministry of Education and the College have been working together on several initiatives, including regulatory amendments to the enhanced teacher education program, which will launch this September. By doubling the length of the program and reducing the number of entrants by half, new teachers will be “better prepared for the modern classroom,” said Sandals.

The status of Bill 103, which died on the order paper when the legislature was dissolved in the spring of 2014, was also among the list of topics the Minister touched on. In 2013, Sandals introduced Bill 103, the Protecting Students Act, to the Ontario legislature. The Bill contained the most significant amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act since the college was formed in 1997. The amendments reinforced the College’s continuing efforts to streamline its investigation and discipline processes, and are consistent with the recommendations made to the College in an independent review by former Ontario Chief Justice Patrick LeSage in 2012.

Sandals remains optimistic that the Bill will be reintroduced and is looking for the earliest opportunity to do so.

“I am committed to seeing that this bill gets passed,” she said. “In the rare circumstances where teacher discipline is required, families, teachers and students deserve a fair and transparent process that maintains the public interest and protects our children.”

The Ministry and the College have also been working together to implement recommendations from the coroner’s inquest into the death of Jeffery Baldwin, the child who died while in the care of his grandparents.

Sandals congratulated the College for the steps it is taking to ensure members understand the duty to report under the Child and Family Services Act when there is a case of suspected child abuse or neglect. The College will be issuing a professional advisory on the duty to report to its members in the fall.

“It’s very important that anyone who is responsible for children is aware of the duty to report,” Sandals said. “The Jeffery Baldwin inquest, along with Bill 103, underscores the importance of transparency and accountability. It’s one of the reasons the public should have a better idea of the role and responsibilities of the Ontario College of Teachers.”

The Minister closed with a discussion of the four goals of its renewed vision for Ontario’s public school system, thanking College for the contributions made to its development.

The four goals include achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence. Sandals added that the College has a connection to the goals in the new vision through the role it plays in inspiring public confidence in the teaching profession.

“You share the ownership of working to cultivate and continuously develop a high quality teaching profession to support achievement for Ontario learners. Thank you for championing the teaching profession. We can all rest easy knowing that you are watching over the teaching profession.”

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