School Board Update
Ontario Proposes Significant Amendments Impacting School Board Sector
Date: April 20, 2023
On April 17, 2023, the Ontario government introduced Bill 98, Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023 for First Reading. If passed, Bill 98 would amend the Education Act, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 and the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007. The government has invited interested stakeholders to comment on the proposed amendments by May 16, 2023. Some of the significant amendments of particular interest to school boards are outlined below.
If passed, Bill 98 would amend the Education Act to allow the government to make regulations prescribing provincial priorities in education in the area of student achievement. School boards would be required to publicly post a multi-year improvement plan that reflects the provincial priorities for student achievement.
The proposed amendments would also expand the Minister of Education’s powers and regulation-making powers to include, among other matters, powers to:
- establish policies and guidelines respecting the provincial priorities in education, and require school boards to comply with the policies and guidelines
- issue guidelines respecting the review and revision of curricula
- issue policies and guidelines setting out the training to be completed by board members, directors of education, supervisory officers and superintendents, including the content, timing and frequency of training
- assign support personnel to work with school boards in certain circumstances, including when the Minister is unsatisfied with the school board’s progress in implementing the multi-year plan or in achieving the goals of the plan
- make regulations governing codes of conduct to apply to board members, including the process to be followed for alleged breaches of codes of conduct
Additionally, Bill 98 proposes a number of amendments related to the sale, lease or disposal of a school site, part of a school site, or a school property, and would give the Minister various powers over such dispositions, including regulation-making powers.
Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996
The proposed amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 include changes to:
- allow the Registrar to revoke a certificate of qualification and registration if the certificate has been suspended under subsection 24 (1) for more than three years or for a time period set out in regulations
- authorize the Investigation Committee to require a member to undertake remedial training or education
- authorize the Investigation Committee and the Discipline Committee to deal with members convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code in particular ways
- prohibit the Registrar from removing a suspension of a certificate or issuing a certificate unless the member whose certificate has been suspended or revoked successfully completes the sexual abuse prevention program requirements
Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007
The proposed amendments to the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 would, among other things:
- authorize the Complaints Committee to require a member to undertake remedial training or education
- authorize the Complaints Committee and the Discipline Committee to deal with members convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code in particular ways
- have the Registrar become the complainant when an employer’s report is filed, rather than the employer
The government is currently consulting on Bill 98. Interested parties can provide comments by email by no later than May 16, 2023.
While a number of the amendments are scheduled to come into force on Royal Assent, others will come into force on dates to be named by proclamation, and Bill 98 should be consulted for details. At this time, there are few details set out in Bill 98 for the proposed amendments, and we will monitor Bill 98’s progress and provide a more detailed summary as more information becomes available.
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