April 12, 2019 – Court dismisses challenge to Ontario’s Sex Education Curriculum

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ETFO et al v Her Majesty the Queen, 2019 ONSC 1308
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association challenged the constitutionality of a government’s directive, which required elementary school teachers to follow the sex education curriculum in place from 2010 to 2015, instead of the curriculum introduced in 2015. The 2015 Curriculum referenced subjects such as consent, gender identity and sexual orientation. The Court dismissed the applications, stating that it is the role of elected officials, not the courts, to enact legislation and make policy decisions. The Court also noted that the 2010 Curriculum does not contain any provisions preventing teachers from addressing the topics introduced in the 2015 Curriculum.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

EC v Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario2019 HRTO 474
The applicant alleged that the respondent breached the Code because it failed to reasonably accommodate E.C.’s disability and to provide appropriate educational services to her in light of that disability. The application was dismissed for abuse of process. The Tribunal found that the Litigation Guardian’s repeated refusal to abide by its directions and her final failure to attend the hearing demonstrated a lack of respect for the Tribunal and its processes, was fundamentally unfair to the respondent and clearly constituted an abuse of process.

 

AK v Peel District School Board, 2019 HRTO 448
A teacher was placed on administrative leave when she was “assigned to home”.  After an IME found she was fit to return to work, the School Board decided she would be transferred to work at a different school. The teacher alleged, in part, that the decisions to assign her to home and to transfer her to another school, had an adverse impact on her because of her disability. In dismissing the application, the Tribunal found that the applicant demonstrated no evidence that she was treated adversely through the IME process because of her disability. The Tribunal also specified that although the transfer may have caused the applicant additional stress and anxiety, it did not create a Code breach.

 

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Ontario’s “Education that Works for You” Plan
On March 15, 2019, the Ministry of Education released its new “Education that Works for You” plan. Some of the changes include reforms to math, STEM, and financial literacy curricula, improved skilled trades opportunities, and a province wide ban on cellphones in the classroom.

Memorandum to education sector unions
On March 15, 2019, the Ministry of Education released a Memorandum to education sector unions to provide further input on teacher hiring practices and class size in Ontario by May 31, 2019.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Ontario Bill 48Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, 2018
As previously reported, this Bill, in part, amends the Education Act to provide that the Minister of Education may establish policies and guidelines respecting service animals in schools and require school boards to develop policies in accordance with those policies and guidelines. On March 5, 2019, the Bill was reported without amendments from the Standing Committee on Social Policy and ordered for Third Reading. The Bill received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019 and many of the changes implemented by Bill 48 are now in force.

O. Reg. 59/19 The 2019 Round of Collective Bargaining
On April 2, 2019, the government filed O. Reg. 59/19: The 2019 Round of Collective Bargaining under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014 amending O. Reg. 493/18. The amended Regulation  provides, in part, that notice to bargain may be given on or after April 29, 2019.

 

Ontario Bill 66Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019. The bill amends the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 by increasing the number of children under 2 years old who may be supervised by a single care provider. It also allows unlicensed care providers to be responsible for 3 children. The Education Act is also amended to require a school board to ensure that third-party child care facilities are licensed, rather than the individual care providers. These changes will come into effect on July 1, 2019.

To learn about Bill 66 amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, please refer to our Focus article.