We have taken action to improve the teacher profession disciplinary process by providing greater accountability, transparency and timeliness while preventing conflicts of interest.
The new model for teacher and teacher leader disciplinary matters brings Alberta in line with best practices followed in other provinces and other regulated professions. The government has established the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission and appointed an arm’s-length commissioner to oversee teacher and teacher leader conduct and competency complaints.
Other steps we’ve taken to protect students and enhance accountability include introducing new professional practice standards, establishing an online teacher and teacher leader registry, and unifying codes of conduct for teachers and teacher leaders.
Teacher discipline in Alberta
Previously, Alberta was the only Canadian province where a teachers’ union had the sole responsibility for overseeing complaints of alleged unprofessional conduct and professional incompetence filed against their union members.
Under the new model, the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission ensures teacher conduct and competency complaints are handled fairly and effectively.
Other professions within Alberta have professional regulatory organizations that oversee matters of professional discipline for their members such as nurses, some doctors, and social workers. These organizations are self-regulated and are not part of the union, where one might exist.
Very few teachers in Alberta go through the teacher discipline process. When this process does take place, it must be fair, effective and transparent.
Numbers at a glance
- ~53,000 total practicing teachers and teacher leaders in Alberta.
- ~46,000 members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association employed in public, separate and francophone school authorities.
- ~7,000 teachers and teacher leaders currently employed in other schools.
- 0.32% of practicing Alberta teachers and teacher leaders had complaints filed against them in 2021.
- ~0.02% of Alberta teacher and teacher leaders had their certificates suspended or cancelled due to unprofessional conduct in 2021.
Improving teacher discipline: a timeline
September 1, 2019
- Professional practice standards come into effect for principals and superintendents, along with new certificate requirements for teacher leaders and a revised standard for teachers.
April 22, 2021
- The College of Alberta School Superintendents Act receives Royal Assent. Parts of the Act are proclaimed on September 1, 2021, where Ministerial approval to appoint a Superintendent of Schools is no longer required, with an obligation to only notify the Minister of a superintendent’s appointment.
December 2, 2021
- The Students First Act receives Royal Assent.
December 15, 2021
- Order-in-council implements the provision in the Students First Act impacting the Teaching Profession Act, requiring the ATA to notify the Registrar at Alberta Education of all complaints received about their members and at various stages throughout the complaint process.
- Engagement with education partners and victim advocacy groups to inform the governance structure of how matters of professional conduct and competence are handled in the teaching profession.
May 31, 2022
- The Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline Act introduced to separate the teacher disciplinary process from the ATA’s mandate and functions.
June 15, 2022
- The Education Act Transitional Regulation is signed to ensure a smooth shift from the current system of teacher and teacher leader professionalism to the new Alberta Teaching Commission, effective January 1, 2023.
- Transitional regulations will allow, throughout the first half of 2023, for discipline matters to continue in accordance with the rules under which they were started.
- Sections of the Students First Act that amend the Education Act, Teaching Profession Act and College of Alberta School Superintendents Act come into force upon proclamation.
- The teacher and teacher leader registry is publicly accessible online upon proclamation of parts of the Students First Act. Alberta’s online teacher and teacher leader registry shows the professional standing of Alberta certificated teachers and teacher leaders as well as cases where a teacher or teacher leader’s certificate has been suspended or cancelled for unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence.
- Government launches a public survey asking Albertans for input to help develop a single code of professional conduct for all teachers and teacher leaders regardless of where they are employed. In addition to the public survey, government continues to engage with a broad spectrum of victim advocacy groups and key education system stakeholders, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
- Julia Sproule is appointed as commissioner of the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission. Sproule, B.A.(Honours), LL.B., is an experienced legal advisor with a diversity of legal and leadership experience in private practice, industry and non-profit. She also has knowledge of the education system with prior experience as a member of the school council at her local school and on the board of directors at Die Kleine Kinderschule preschool.
- A new code of professional conduct is released via Order in Council on December 7, 2022. The new code will take effect in January 1, 2023.
- The new code unifies both of the pre-existing codes to provide a clear and fair set of ethical principles to guide teachers no matter where they teach.
- The vast majority of teachers uphold the high standards Albertans have for those entrusted with their children each day, the new code will contain more provisions that emphasize the importance of student safety.
- The Education (Reforming Teacher Discipline) Amendment Act, which sets out the new proposed disciplinary model under the direction of the Alberta Teaching Profession Commissioner, comes into force on January 1, 2023.
- A new unified code of conduct for teachers and teacher leaders, as informed by public and stakeholder engagement earlier in 2022, comes into effect.
- The online teacher and teacher registry begins to show additional decisions from hearing committees, appeal committees or the minister where there is a finding of unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence. This means that in addition to suspensions and cancellations, the registry begins to show penalties (for matters concluding after January 1, 2023) including but not limited to letters of reprimand or an order to take a professional or personal development course.
- Raising the bar with education leaders (March 9, 2021)
- Putting students first (November 16, 2021)
- Putting students first: Minister LaGrange (December 9, 2021)
- Keeping students safe: Reforming the disciplinary process (March 31, 2022)