The Manitoba provincial government has been hinting for a few years that they intended to introduce legislation around teacher misconduct and professional standards. In anticipation, MTS has been working on this portfolio since 2018, researching what is in place with teacher regulation in other provinces, along with other professional regulatory models, in order to design and submit a framework to the government that would meet teacher standards for protecting due process, natural justice, and fairness for members while remaining a strong advocate for the safety of students. Earlier last month, MTS participated in a second round of consultations with the province. Unfortunately, when the provincial government introduced Bill 35 – The Education Administration Amendment Act (Teacher Certification and Professional Conduct) last week, it appears that they included little of this input from Manitoba teachers. The act focuses on four areas:
- Create a public online registry of teachers with information about a teacher’s teaching certificate, including the date it was issued, its educational classification and its current status. The registry would also include a permanent record of any suspension or cancellation of a teaching certificate.
- Appoint a director of certification to oversee the certification process for teachers and the registry.
- Establish competence standards that teachers must meet to be issued and maintain a teaching certificate.
- Appoint a commissioner to receive and process misconduct or incompetence complaints from any source including school divisions.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is strongly opposed to BILL 35, as it “denies teachers fairness and due process and exposes them to frivolous and malicious complaints.”
If the government intends to pass this legislation by June 1, the bill’s second reading must occur by April 18. As with any legislation, you can register to speak at a committee hearing on the proposed legislation, or make a written submission for the committee hearing (all written submissions are read on behalf of the person submitting). One of the things that helped to defeat Bill 64 was the vast volume of people registering to speak/offer written submissions to the committee, demonstrating the overwhelming opposition to that proposed bill. We need you to consider doing so again, as if this bill passes as is without any amendments, it will be extremely unfriendly to our members – the current definition in the bill of what constitutes “professional misconduct” is extremely broad and could open up teachers to frivolous complaints, especially with respect to “significant emotional harm”. Things such as a grade that a student doesn’t agree with, a ‘safe and inclusive space’ poster, etc., could all be grounds for complaints under the legislation as currently written.
To find out more about Manitoba Teachers’ Society‘s position on Bill 35, click here.
To register to speak at a committee hearing on Bill 35, or to make a written submission to the committee, click here.