Manitoba proposes online registry for disciplined teachers
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The Manitoba government has introduced legislation to create an online public registry that would list disciplinary action taken against teachers.
“Our government takes the safety of our children and youth very seriously,” Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko said as he introduced Bill 35 — The Education Administration Amendment Act (Teacher Certification and Professional Conduct) Tuesday.
It would also create a commissioner to police teacher misconduct.
The goal is to implement “a transparent, accountable process to address and prevent teacher misconduct,” Ewasko said.
The Progressive Conservative government promised in November to create a registry after the Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued a report that highlighted the absence of transparency around educator misconduct in Manitoba.
The report, by the Winnipeg-based centre, said every province and territory should have an independent oversight body that investigates and adjudicates cases of teacher misconduct. It called for cases of teacher discipline to be made public.
Instead, Bill 35 would establish an independent commissioner to investigate and respond to complaints and reports of teacher misconduct. The commissioner could decide to postpone taking action if the teacher’s employer or a criminal proceeding is addressing the same concern.
The commissioner could enter into an agreement with the teacher about appropriate consequences, or call a hearing and appoint a panel to rule on whether a teacher is guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence. A hearing could result in the teacher’s certificate being suspended or cancelled. An appeal of the hearing panel’s decision could be made to the Court of King’s Bench.
Stop Educator Child Exploitation, a group of survivors of sexual abuse by teachers, praised the Manitoba government for the proposed law, but expressed concern that a political appointee who answers to the education minister would be investigating and responding to complaints rather than a independent body.
“The independent commissioner will be appointed by the government of the day and will serve at their pleasure,” it said in a statement. “Our view is that the commissioner should be appointed by a vote in the legislature, and only be dismissed by a vote of the legislature, allowing for a much more independent commissioner who can act without fear of dismissal.”
The online registry would allow the public to see when a teacher was certified, the class and status of their certificate as well as any disciplinary action taken against the teacher. The bill would authorize the government to set competence standards that teachers must meet to be issued and maintain a teaching certificate.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, which has raised concerns about such a registry, was not prepared to respond to the government bill Tuesday. The NDP did not respond to a request for comment.
Ewasko said Bill 35 aligns Manitoba’s legislation with other Canadian jurisdictions, and was developed with input from stakeholders including educators, administrators and abuse survivors.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.