Ontario’s Ministry of Education announced they are revoking the seniority hiring regulation, to help younger people enter the profession faster during the pandemic and promote more diversity amongst staff.
On Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province will revoke Regulation 247, which has favoured seniority as the most important factor in teacher hiring since its introduction in September 2012.
“There’s nothing wrong with the teachers, it’s the system. We have a system that rewards seniority over merit,” Lecce said during a press conference.
He added that this regulation makes it difficult for new teachers to be hired and is “not respecting them and their contributions.”
Lecce said with the pandemic, more teachers need to be hired in order to have physical distancing in classes, but principals are reportedly finding that the regulation acts as an obstacle in the process.
“We need to hire all available teachers. The problem is not with funding, it’s a challenge where principals cannot hire quickly enough due to restrictive hiring. They are constrained by an outdated process but need qualified teachers right now.”
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The education minister added that “bright, motivated, and tech-savvy” new teachers have been held back with these regulations, often waiting five to eight years to be hired.
Right now, the regulation says that teachers must serve as supply teachers and then as long-term occasional before being hired as full-time, permanent staff.
“We face multiple challenges in hiring. And we’re not seeing the representation of qualified teachers from many backgrounds. The backgrounds do not represent the communities they serve.”
Lecce said that in Peel region, 50% of the student body are “racialized kids” but they have less than 25% “racialized staff.” He noted that children will perform better when they see representation in their class.
“It’s clear the status quo in the province is not working. Black, South Asian and other communities deserve better.”
The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) said that Regulation 274 created many challenges for school boards, including an inability to address diversity and equity in hiring; limitations on boards to hire teachers that reflect the needs of the school community; the pressure occasional teachers feel to be on multiple school board lists; the inability of permanent teachers to seek employment at a different school board; and the restrictions for principals and vice-principals to return to teaching.
“This regulation has also disadvantaged teachers who are new to the profession, and it has become a deterrent to entering the teaching profession,” Cathy Abraham, OPSBA President, said in a statement.
“Eliminating the unfair restrictions created by Regulation 274 is the right thing to do and will allow school boards to hire the right teachers for the job – including teachers who look like and understand their students’ experiences because they have lived them.”
The new hiring Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) will enable principals to hire based on “merit, diversity and the unique needs of the school” while providing strict protocols to avoid concerns of nepotism.
This means that with the regulation being revoked, the Ministry of Education will implement an interim teacher hiring policy that will provide school boards with guidance as boards develop local policies that meet the directives set out in a ministry.
The Ministry of Education will implement a PPM that will provide clear and transparent processes and principles that boards will use in finalizing their teacher hiring policies.
These principles include promoting diversity, equity and human rights; qualifications and merit; enhanced teacher employment mobility; fair and transparent processes; an monitoring and evaluation.
Lecce noted that based on these principles and specific directions in the PPM, school boards and authorities will then have the opportunity to develop localized teacher hiring policies that support the objectives while reflecting the needs of the community.