TORONTO – NEWS – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced legal action against the Ontario government regarding its repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum and the anonymous parent ‘snitch line’.
“ETFO is seeking an injunction against the government to stop this unprecedented and unnecessary attack on kids and professional educators in Ontario,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Students need and deserve modern day information and answers to their questions. This is about safety, inclusion and preparing students for the world of 2018, not the world of 1998.”
The union’s position is that the government’s actions are in direct conflict with professional obligations that are enshrined within the Education Act and the Standards of Practice of the Ontario College of Teachers. When the government declared that the Health and Physical Education Curriculum would revert to an older edition, key topics were removed. Hammond stated that never in his history has a government acted to take educators backwards. ETFO believes that the government’s directive is also in conflict with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Goldblatt Partners LLP is representing ETFO in the legal proceedings. Howard Goldblatt who is the lead counsel to represent the union’s case said, “The application raises significant issues of a Charter Rights violation which we look forward to have determined by the courts.”
As for the parent complaint line, Hammond stated that ETFO feels it is an unnecessary waste of public funds that could go directly to schools. Regardless of cost, the creation of, what ETFO deems a “snitch line” ignores the systems already in place for parents and educators to deal constructively with issues at the school level. ETFO is equally concerned that the anonymous portal will become an outlet for bullies, hate and potentially a mechanism to out lesbian, gay, and bisexual educators, all of which are counter-productive to improving any situation.
“While ETFO pursues this legal action, we will continue to vigorously defend members who use their professional judgment to ensure they are creating safe and healthy classrooms for all students,” said Hammond.
ETFO also announced that it is seeking intervenor status in a case currently before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal filed in August by parents and students regarding the changes to the health curriculum.