Opinion: The Alberta Teachers’ Association cannot also be a public protector and a union

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I would like to point out from the outset and in full transparency that I have two daughters who are teachers and of whom I am very proud. They both started their careers while I was Minister of Learning and are excellent at their jobs. I also have nine grandchildren under the age of eight who have entered or will enter the education system in Alberta. I therefore consider myself not only as a former minister of apprenticeship, but also as a concerned actor in the education system.

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So when I learn that a young child has potentially been sexually, emotionally or physically assaulted by their teacher, I am deeply concerned. I fear for the child, for other children at risk and for the system that not only allowed this abuse to happen in the first place, but did not go out of its way to make sure it does not happen again. Never again. I’m not naive enough to think that there aren’t predators who are teachers the same way I guess there are predators who are doctors and nurses. It is unreasonable to think that a system can be 100% safe from these types of people.

However, the true measure of a profession is how well it protects the public from members of its own profession. Examples of this come from the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA). They state on the opening page of their website that their job is to “regulate and direct the profession in a way that protects and serves the public.” He later states, “The (CLPNA) regulates the profession of Licensed Practical Nurse in a manner that protects and serves by establishing and maintaining standards of registration, practice and conduct for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). ). Our goal and our commitment is to protect and serve the public.

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The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) is also clear that its mandate is to protect the public first and foremost. Likewise, my governing body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, states that “CPHA has been around for over 100 years and through the many changes that occur over time, our priority has remained the same: protecting Albertans. guiding the medical profession. “

There is obviously a common theme here; protection of the public, and while each of these various colleges may only be required to discipline a handful of offenders per year, all Albertans know why they are here and that if they have a complaint – no matter how small – it – they will receive due process by an independent body.

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The front page of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) website states that “teachers will not allow LaGrange’s threats and bullying to be a distraction.” I challenge anyone reading this article to try to figure out how to file a complaint with the ATA and, moreover, what happens to a complaint about a teacher from an affected member of the public.

Does the ATA have the right to disagree with the minister and take the fight to the public domain – absolutely! But, should this same body be at the same time judge, jury, executioner and beneficiary of the union dues of the alleged offender? I believe the answer is a categorical no.

It’s time for the ATA to realize that bad actors in their profession bring down the whole profession and that perception is reality. Teachers like my daughters and many others are hardworking, honest, and don’t deserve their profession to be denigrated because of a few.
Minister Adriana Lagrange’s initiative to establish an independent body that puts students first and protects all Albertans is laudable and long overdue.

I wish that during my five and a half years as Minister, I would learn that the circumstances would have been right to allow this to happen. The ATA should embrace this change, not fight it. Transparency and justice should be the ATA’s ally, not its combative enemy.

Dr. Lyle Oberg, MD, is CEO of Mynd Life Sciences and former Alberta Minister of Learning, 1999-2005

Andrew B. Reiter