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Education minister wants to prevent delinquent teachers from changing schools

A teacher in eastern Ontario has lost her licence after pleading no contest to eight counts of professional misconduct including sexual abuse of a student. (Dids / Pxels) A teacher in eastern Ontario has lost her licence after pleading no contest to eight counts of professional misconduct including sexual abuse of a student. (Dids / Pxels)
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Quebec Education Minister Bernard Drainville wants to prevent delinquent teachers from changing schools.

"It is not normal for a teacher to be able to commit acts of a sexual nature with impunity and move from one service centre to another or from one school to another without consequence," explained the minister a few minutes after tabling his bill on Wednesday.

If it is passed, the law will oblige school service centres and private educational establishments to carry out background checks on a teacher who comes from another school to ensure that he or she is not a danger to children.

The teacher's former employer will be obliged to provide the relevant information and documents.

The minister's initiative follows an inquiry report into sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour in schools, which showed that schools were ill-equipped to deal with these situations.

Currently, there are clauses that provide for "the removal of certain information from employees' disciplinary files after a certain period of time."

The government wants to put an end to this practice.

"The bill ensures that acts of misconduct or acts that may give rise to fear for the physical or psychological safety of pupils will remain in the employee's file. They cannot, under amnesty clauses, disappear after a few months or a few years," said Drainville.

The minister admitted that some amnesty clauses were included in the collective agreements.

"We hope that the unions will cooperate on this. We think that the unions have the same objective as we do of protecting children, but my understanding is that this legislation will take precedence over collective agreements," he said.

The bill will allow the minister to investigate a teacher without necessarily having received a formal complaint.

"With the bill, I will be able to trigger the committee of inquiry when I have credible information. (...) If the investigation is conclusive, the teacher's licence can be suspended or even revoked," said Drainville.

The bill will also oblige anyone to report a teacher to the ministry who has committed a serious offence in the course of his or her duties.

The minister also wants to require school service centres and public schools to adopt a code of ethics.

"The code should set out the practices and conduct expected of people working with under-age students, including bus drivers and all other providers of extracurricular services," reads the government press release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 6, 2023. 

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