“Like many Albertans, I was horrified when I first read the details of allegations brought forward regarding a former Calgary Board of Education teacher.
“I was also appalled that the Alberta Teachers’ Association did not believe they had an obligation to report its disciplinary findings to police.
“They chose to solely rely on a disciplinary process that recommended only a two-year suspension for admitted child abuse. We will never know what the results of a full, timely criminal investigation could have been.
“Unfortunately, this episode clearly demonstrates that the ATA failed to protect students from a predatory teacher.
“We took steps to begin addressing this with the Students First Act. This new legislation brings in several measures to make the teacher disciplinary process more transparent.
“However, after learning the disturbing details of this case, I realized more needs to be done right now – and that is why I am taking the following steps.
“First, I will bring forward an order-in-council to immediately implement the provision in the Students First Act requiring the ATA to notify the registrar at Alberta Education of all complaints about their members when they are received.
“Currently, the ATA is only required to notify Alberta Education at the end of their disciplinary process if a matter goes to a hearing, including cases where recommendations are made to the Minister to suspend or cancel a certificate.
“Second, I have directed my department to begin drafting legislation for the spring that will separate the teacher disciplinary process from the ATA’s mandate and functions.
“It is now abundantly clear that the ATA can no longer act as the investigator and the prosecutor for complaints against its members. This obvious conflict of interest has made Alberta an outlier. All other provinces and territories follow either an arm’s-length or government-operated model for teacher discipline.
“Alberta’s government is committed to improving the teacher and teacher leader discipline process, including within the registrar’s own processes.
“I cannot change the past, nor can I take away the pain survivors live with every single day. However, as the Minister of Education, I consider it my moral obligation to do everything in my power to fix the broken system that has let our children and their families down for so long.
“I look forward to providing Albertans with updates on this important work as we move forward.”