The Mandate of the Ontario College of Teachers
Over a number of years and through many venues, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) and the Affiliates (AEFO, ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF) have expressed concerns about what we have regarded as the increasing activity, beyond its mandate, of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT, the College). In the fall of 2013, the OTF Executive approved the commissioning of a report on how the mandate of the OCT has come to be interpreted and applied since its inception in 1997. Click here for the Backgrounder.
The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) was established by the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 and is responsible for regulating key aspects of the professional lives of 239,000 members. Its role is to foster public trust and confidence in education. It is accountable to the public for how it carries out its responsibilities. It ensures appropriate standards for teacher training and accredits teacher education programs. OCT issues teaching licences to teachers who have met the criteria and publishes a register of all members. It sets and enforces professional standards of practice for teachers. In the work of the College, the public interest is paramount—rather than the individual or collective interests of teachers.
The Governing Council of OCT is responsible for the development and approval of the policies that regulate the teaching profession in Ontario. It also sets the budget and the fee which is collected for all teachers wishing to maintain a licence. The 37-member Council includes 23 elected College members and 14 members of the public, appointed by the Government. All College members are eligible to vote in Council elections, although participation in the last two triennial elections has been less than 5%.
Teachers are most likely to interact with the College by taking the necessary steps to acquire and maintain their licence. Teachers may, however, be the subject of a complaint that results in investigation and discipline by the College; in those cases, the College acts as prosecutor and the member must defend him or herself. If the teacher is also a member of a federation, he or she may receive support from their federation in protecting their right to due process and a fair defence.
By contrast, OTF is the professional organization that advocates on behalf of teachers. At its core, OTF represents the voice of teachers in the province, and is responsible for speaking out on behalf of teachers. It is the Federation’s duty to work explicitly and implicitly in the interest of the province’s teachers.
OTF and affiliate staff meet regularly with the elected members of the Governing Council who are also members of OTF to discuss issues of mutual concern. As well, OTF and affiliate staff meet regularly with OCT staff from the Investigations and Hearings, Member Services and Professional Affairs Departments. OTF also provides input into major OCT initiatives.