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Catholic Teachers Settle Unfair Labour Practice Complaints Against Ford Conservative Government
The Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) issued a joint statement today, after settling unfair labour practice complaints against the Ford Conservative government regarding Policy/Program Memorandum 168 – Reading Instruction and Early Reading Screening (PPM 168).
This is a welcome, if belated, recognition by the government that the unilateral implementation of PPM 168 contravened Catholic teachers’ collective agreements, violated the statutory freeze period during bargaining, and circumvented the bargaining process, as this issue has been a topic of discussion at the bargaining table.
Catholic teachers firmly believe that every child has the right to learn to read – to literacy – and we recognize
that the acquisition of literacy skills disproportionately lags behind for students from equity-deserving
While Catholic teachers support the introduction of an early screening tool as one part of a broader approach, the government is flatly ignoring the recommendations in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Right to Read report – a report the government itself commissioned – which calls for proper investment, hiring of additional and dedicated staff to administer any screening tool, and the necessary resources and supports to promote effective implementation to ensure student success.
The government’s underfunded, last-minute implementation of PPM 168 is counter-productive, and would undermine teachers’ ability to use your professional judgement to meet your students’ individual needs, which will almost certainly see students fall through the cracks.
Furthermore, Catholic teachers’ collective agreements include language that confirms the ability of teachers to
exercise their professional judgement when choosing and conducting diagnostic assessments to meet student
needs. PPM 168 contravened those collective agreements.
In settling the unfair labour practice complaint, the government acknowledges and reaffirms teachers’
professional judgement rights, and confirms that the use of the Early Reading Screening Tool by teachers is no
longer mandatory for the 2023-24 school year – educators will continue to use their expertise and professional
judgement to identify and address students’ unique individual needs. The government will be issuing a
memorandum to school boards to ensure teacher professional judgement is understood and respected.
Catholic teachers call on the Ford Conservative government to learn from this error in judgement, to bargain in
good faith by keeping bargaining issues at the bargaining table, and to join teachers in working collaboratively
and meaningfully to make the real, sustained investments in publicly funded education needed, so that all
students have the learning environment they deserve.