ETFO takes legal action against province
By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 11, 2018
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is taking legal action against the provincial government, seeking a court injunction against the repeal of the 2015 physical and health education curriculum, as well as the creation of a hotline where parents can anonymously call to report their children’s teachers if they continue to teach the 2015 curriculum.
During the summer, Premier Doug Ford announced that the 2015 curriculum would be revoked and, until a new curriculum is put in place, that students would learn from the previous curriculum, which was created in 1998. That decision was met with backlash and criticism, as the 1998 health and physical education curriculum, which includes sex ed, does not deal with issues such as consent, gender identity and internet safety.
ETFO is arguing that the government’s decision put teachers in conflict with their professional obligations within the Education Act and the Standards of Practice of the Ontario College of Teachers. The union also believes the decision violates the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“What we are asking is to allow the teachers to teach from the 2015 curriculum, which is current,” Karen Bratina, president of the local ETFO chapter, told the paper. Ford has said his government would conduct consultations, including with parent groups, on what they want to see in a new health and physical education curriculum. Bratina said the province should go ahead and do its consultations, but that in the meantime, it’s illogical to teach the 1998 curriculum.
“It makes no sense to revert to a curriculum that is outdated,” she said.
As for the hotline, which ETFO has dubbed a “snitch line,” Bratina said it undermines the teacher-parent relationship.
“It frightens me, as a president,” she said. “It angers me, because it undermines an already established relationship between teachers and parents. Teachers work so hard to establish those relationships with parents.”
Bratina also said the phone line was a waste of public money, and that the province could focus its resources on fixing schools, dealing with violence in schools, and addressing student needs.
A number of school boards, including the Trillium Lakelands District Board, have written open letters saying the boards would support teachers who choose to continue to teach the 2015 curriculum.