Consultation limited for new education bill
September 05, 2012
Bill includes significant shift in power over education
The provincial government has allocated a total of 4.5 hours for public consultations on a Bill that includes substantial changes to Ontario’s education system.
The final Bill – to be voted on Monday, September 10th – would give the provincial government a number of new legal rights: to impose contracts, ban strikes and lock-outs (and even the threat of strikes) and circumvent the courts, the Human Rights Code and the Labour Relations Act.
What powers does the new law grant?
The Bill shifts significant control out of the hands of school boards and up to the province. The Law itself will be in effect for two years, but the Bill gives the province the right to extend the law for at least a year beyond that, and to impose permanent regulations shifting control over teacher hiring and student assessments.
Among the new powers in the Bill:
- The province can force employees to pay back any money they receive that contravenes the Act, or demand that boards deduct it from employees’ wages.
- The Labour Relations Board and any other arbitrators are prohibited from either inquiring into or making decisions about the constitutionality of the Act or whether the Act is in conflict with the Human Rights Code.
- The province can use the Labour Relations Act to enforce the new law, but the Labour Relations Act doesn’t apply if it conflicts with the new law.
- The courts are not allowed to be used to question or review any of the terms or conditions in the Act.
- No arbitration can over-ride any terms of the province’s stipulations for the contracts.
- Strikes and lock-outs during the two-year period the legislation currently covers are banned, and deemed unlawful, and it will be unlawful to even call for a strike, threaten a lock-out or encourage any employees to go on strike.
- The Minister of Education may, by regulation (no consultation or return to legislature necessary), shift control over teacher-hiring and student assessments, so that principals and school boards have less power to make choices in these areas.
- All contracts between school boards and their employees – including both unionized and non-unionized employees (e.g. principals) – must be approved by the Minister and must follow most of the terms laid out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.
People For Education Viewpoint:
This Bill is being rushed through the legislature. School has started, no one is threatening a strike or job action, yet we are moving ahead with a Bill that will result in a major shift in control over our education system.
It is worth remembering what Don Drummond said in his advice to the province last winter, ‘Crises always spur action, but almost inevitably, they also bring forth bad public policy decisions.’