Teachers’ association calls for end to extended contracts

The Yukon Teachers' Association wants the government to stop keeping teachers on temporary contracts indefinitely.

The Yukon Teachers’ Association wants the government to stop keeping teachers on temporary contracts indefinitely.

“There isn’t any job security from year to year, so that in effect doesn’t allow them to have roots in our community,” said Katherine Mackwood, the association’s president.

According to Yukon’s Education Labour Relations Act, teachers cannot be on temporary contracts for more than two consecutive years except under exceptional circumstances as approved by the deputy minister.

But according to the teachers’ association, many Yukon teachers have been on contract for more than two years, with no end in sight.

“It’s a big problem. That’s why we have finally taken the bull by the horns and addressed it, and won it.”

Douglas Rody, general secretary for the association, estimated that between 15 and 25 teachers are affected by this problem every year.

Last year a board of adjudication upheld the legislation and found that the deputy minister must approve exceptional circumstances when a teacher’s temporary contract is renewed for a third consecutive year.

The Department of Education has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court of Yukon. That hearing will take place later this month.

The department declined to comment on this story.

The recent Court of Appeal decision between the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon and the department also ruled on the question of temporary teaching contracts and found the same thing at the board of adjudication.

The Supreme Court of Canada is currently considering if it will review that case.

The Yukon Teachers’ Association wants the Yukon government to act immediately to give teachers on temporary contracts permanent positions, said Rody.

“Nobody wants to be on a temporary contract indefinitely. The employer is avoiding their responsibilities as an employer.”

The Opposition NDP has brought up the issue in the legislative assembly twice in the last two weeks.

“Will the government commit this school year to working with the YTA to find a legal solution to this illegal hiring policy that every year leaves temporary teachers and educational assistants in limbo?” asked MLA Jim Tredger.

Education Minister Elaine Taylor responded that the government is committed to fulfilling its obligations under its collective agreement with the teachers, and that the hiring protocol has recently been changed to give greater priority to temporary teachers when positions become available.

“We are very proud of the work of the Department of Education when it comes to working collectively on these issues of importance. We recognize the very important role of temporary teachers and that is, in fact, why we have changed the order of hiring for temporary teachers to second in line, just under those who are already permanent teachers with three or more years in school. We are taking steps and we certainly will continue to work with our partners to improve all of those processes.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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