The Legislative Assembly of Ontario remains adjourned for winter recess and returns on February 19, 2019. The following is an update on recent items.
OPSBA’s Guide to Good Governance
The fully updated OPSBA’s Guide to Good Governance is now available in print and electronic versions and will be distributed directly to school boards as a resource for trustees and boards for the 2018-2022 term of office. The revised guide contains legislative, policy and funding changes that have occurred over the past four years, with specific relevance for Ontario’s English public education system.
OPSBA Governance and Policy-Related Resources
OPSBA’s Policy Development Work Team has been developing resources for school boards in order to comply with upcoming requirements based on past legislation and regulation changes. The resources and information are for member boards to use in conjunction with materials that may have been developed locally or to use in the development of their own material. They have received input from the work team, senior OPSBA staff, senior member board staff and legal counsel.
1) Revised Code of Conduct Template
Recent changes to Ontario Regulation 246/18: Member of School Boards – Code of Conduct were filed to require all school boards to adopt a code of conduct for Trustees by no later than May 15, 2019. In addition, all Trustee codes of conduct must now be made available to the public. If a school board already has a Trustee code of conduct, it must be reviewed by May 15, 2019, and every school board must review its Trustee code of conduct by May 15 every fourth year thereafter. According to the regulation, the Board review shall determine if changes to the code are required and make those changes or, if no changes are required, confirm the existing code of conduct. In order to comply with the Regulation, a board should pass a motion indicating that the code has been reviewed and no changes are required, if that is the case.
OPSBA developed two documents: a “marked-up/highlighted”PDF that indicates the changes made by the work team and a “clean” wordversion to allow local modification more easily. If your board already has a Code of Conduct policy in place and has also already reviewed it before the May 15 deadline, no further action is required.
Reminder: OPSBA first created this template in 2012 for its member boards. The following was shared in the original cover memo and the contents remain true for this revised version.
The template is intended as a guide for school boards. A school board may decide to add or amend provisions of the template to address their local concerns and reflect the mandate and vision of their board. In so doing, it will be necessary to ensure that the minimum provisional provisions are included in the code of conduct and the enforcement provisions include the steps in s.218.3(1) of the Education Act. An example of an amendment a board might make is to identify who would be involved in investigating breaches (chair, vice-chair, or outside consultant).
It is our recommendation that the template’s code and enforcement section be kept together for consistency and completeness. We also recommend that boards consider using an informal procedure first and foremost when investigating a breach of the Code of Conduct and discuss remedial measures to positively correct inappropriate behaviour. We have suggested the option of participating in professional development training such as that offered by the Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC).
We believe code of conduct policies contribute to confidence in public education and respect within the community for the integrity trustees bring to their role. Given this, we envision using the formal complaint procedure only for those egregious and repetitive behaviours that disrupt the ability of a board to conduct its business.
2) Conflict of Interest – Updated Requirements
New requirements concerning Conflict of Interest become effective March 1, 2019. OPSBA has summarized the trustee and board requirements and provided recommendations for consideration. The changes include:
- The requirement of trustees (at a meeting at which a member discloses a pecuniary interest) to file a written statement of the member’s interest at the meeting, or as soon as possible afterwards
- The requirement of school board to establish and maintain a registry of statements and declarations of interests of members. The registry would be made available for public inspection.
Additional information about Conflict of Interest can be found in OPSBA’s Guide to Good Governance – Chapter 4: Legal Responsibilities and Liabilities.
3) Trustee Pregnancy/Prenatal Leave Template
The Education Act was amended in May 2017, to require “every school board to adopt and maintain policies with respect to pregnancy leaves and parental leaves of members of the board. Section 228 of the Act currently sets out circumstances where a member of the board’s seat becomes vacant. A new subsection 228 (2.1) is added to provide that s.228(1)(b) does not apply to vacate the office of a member of a board who is absent for 20 consecutive weeks or less if the absence is the result of the member’s pregnancy, the birth of the member’s child or the adoption of a child by the member.”
Original legislation (Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act) only contemplated allowing this for office holders in the municipal sector and OPSBA successfully advocated for this to be extended to include school board trustees. OPSBA’s template was based on member board material and best practices concerning other leaves. The work team wanted to ensure the template included a list of considerations for trustees to decide and discuss locally.
Hiring Practices and Class Size Consultations
Last week, the Ministry of Education announced consultations regarding Hiring Practices (Ontario Regulation 274/12) and Class Size (Ontario Regulation 132/12). OPSBA hosted a session at the recent Public Education Symposium at which the topics were preliminarily discussed. OPSBA’s Labour Relations Team will be taking the lead on our response and consulting with member boards via their HR leads (senior negotiators), the Association’s Labour Relations Steering Committee, senior staff input and past commentary. Feedback from trustees attending the PES session will also be included. The consultation deadline is February 22, 2019.
On January 22, OPSBA sent a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Our document was based on our recent Education Funding/GSN document.
Bill 36, Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018 – Retail Store Public Notification Process
In December, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli announced changes to the licensing process for recreational retail cannabis stores in Ontario. The province’s cannabis regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Corporation (AGCO) recently conducted a lottery to select 25 entities interested in applying for a retail licence to open cannabis stores by April 1. The 25 licences were divided regionally across the province and must now submit requests to the AGCO for authorization to open retail stores at various proposed locations. The authorizations are subject to a 15-calendar day public notice period which includes opportunities to send written submissions to the AGCO about the proposed location of a store. The written submissions will be considered by the Registrar in its decision to issue or refuse authorization to open a store at the proposed location. The government has said there must be a minimum distance of 150 metres between a school and a retail cannabis store.
Information about the AGCO’s public notice process
Municipalities had until January 22, 2019, to opt out of having stores in their communities.
Full list of municipalities
January 29, 2019: Ontario Making Life Easier for Parents and Families
January 29, 2019: Ontario Investing in Indigenous Economic Development
January 21, 2019: Ontario’s Government for the People Delivering on Promise to Restore Trust and Accountability (Premier Ford’s address to the Economic Club)
January 17, 2019: Government for the People to Lower Student Tuition Burden by 10 percent
January 15, 2019: Special Advisors Appointed to Begin Governmental Review