Media Release

Government releases new code of conduct

Questions remain about discipline process.

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The government’s Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers and Teacher Leaders released earlier today responds to many concerns and suggestions that were raised by the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA); however, aspects of its interpretation and administration still require clarification.

“We have been awaiting the new teacher code of professional conduct since Bill 15, the Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Amendment Act, was passed in the legislature over six months ago. This foundational document provides a standard for every certificated teacher and teacher leader in the province, applying not only to members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, but to those in central office roles and in private and charter schools.”

Jason Schilling, president of the ATA

Teachers will be pleased that the code directly references the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act, ensuring that students, staff and other persons will be protected from discrimination on all protected grounds.

“This will be particularly welcomed by those whose have previously questioned the government’s commitment to ensuring that all the province’s schools are safe places for all gender minorities.”

Jason Schilling, president of the ATA

The Association notes that the government stepped back from some initial proposals that would have confused issues of conduct with issues relating to practice and employment. At the same time, the code contains some novel concepts that are potentially problematic and whose meaning and practical application will become clear only over the course of time, such as a provision preventing teachers from taking “ideological advantage” of students.

There also remains considerable uncertainty about how the government’s enforcement of its code will proceed, and teachers remain concerned, as should all Albertans, about previously legislated provisions that give the minister of education the ability to overrule findings and penalties imposed by hearing committees charged with enforcing the code.

“As long as the minister can meddle in the application of the code, its enforcement cannot be described as being at “arm’s length” and independent of political interference.”

Jason Schilling, president of the ATA

The Association will still need time to examine the details of this new code to determine what impact it will have on our members and the teaching profession in just over two weeks’ time.