The names of educators who have been involved in an sexual abuse investigation or other serious criminal proceedings related to their practice will now be made public, the province has said. All certified educators must also complete a comprehensive mandator sexual abuse prevention program.
“Ontario is the only province in Canada to do this,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce who was joined by Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, at the announcement on Tuesday.
The new directive gives the Ontario College of Teachers and the College of Early Childhood Educators authority to share that information publicly when it is known to them.
“Our government takes a zero-tolerance approach for anyone who would abuse or threaten children,” said Minister Lecce. “I ensured that any educator involved in this heinous criminality faces a life ban from working in any school or licensed child care program again, along with a permanent record on a public registry. We are going further by making information about criminal proceedings related to teachers and early childhood educators public with one aim: to protect the safety of Ontario’s children.”
A series of actions to strengthen safety were previously announced by the education minister including a lifetime ban on any educator who has engaged in physical sexual relations with a student or is involved in any way with child pornography. The lifetime ban also applies retroactively for previous similar acts by teachers and early childhood educators whose memberships were reinstated or were not revoked in the first place.
Both the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) are also required to provide funding for therapy and counselling to students and children who are victims of sexual abuse, a prohibited act involving pornography or prescribed sexual acts prohibited under the Criminal Code (Canada).
In addition, the OCT and CECE registers must make publicly available information about disciplinary decisions made by the Colleges’ Discipline Committees, including for less serious acts leading to reprimands and admonishments.
As of January 1, the OCT has put in place a sexual abuse prevention program that all certified OCT members in good standing are required to complete by September 15, 2022. New and returning OCT applicants from January 1, 2022, are required to complete the sexual abuse prevention program (along with all other certification requirements) to receive their certifications. For the CECE, completion of the sexual abuse prevention program will form a component of all members’ continuous professional learning, beginning in July 2022.