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Ontario College of Teachers Applauds the Supreme Court for Strengthening Student Privacy

February 15 2019

College intervened to provide perspective on student privacy and what constitutes acceptable professional conduct for teachers

The Ontario College of Teachers is pleased with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision, in R. v. Jarvis, to uphold and strengthen student protection and privacy.

In the appeal of a criminal case involving a teacher who was charged with and acquitted of voyeurism in two lower courts after using a pen camera to take secret videos of his female students at school, the College intervened at the Supreme Court to argue for strong protections for student privacy in learning environments under the Criminal Code.

The College has a legislated responsibility to protect students. As an intervener in the case, it provided background and information to help the Court make an informed decision on the appeal.

The Court’s judgment reflects the College’s arguments. For the majority, Chief Justice Wagner recognized “the understanding that school will be a safe environment and that teachers will work to keep it that way…enhances students’ expectations that teachers will scrupulously respect their privacy”.

“We are proud to have contributed to this ruling and will continue our work to protect students,” says Michael Salvatori, OCT, CEO and Registrar, Ontario College of Teachers. “Schools are safer today because of the Supreme Court’s decision.”

“Teachers are guided in their daily practice by the profession’s ethical standards of care, trust, respect and integrity,” says Nicole van Woudenberg, OCT, Chair of Council, Ontario College of Teachers. “The Supreme Court ruling today reinforces the standards that professionals are expected to uphold."

All Ontario teachers working in publicly funded primary and secondary schools must be licensed by the College.

For reference

Supreme Court of Canada, R. v. Jarvis, February 14, 2019, Reasons

Please note: The Supreme Court case is separate and distinct from a pending hearing that will be held by the College involving the member.

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