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ETFO legal case contends government mishandling of the Health and Phys Ed Curriculum has had chilling effect on teachers, puts students at risk

January 9, 2019

Toronto, ON – The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is set to make its case in court today that the government's mishandling of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum has had a chilling effect on teachers' abilities to teach the curriculum in an equitable, diverse and inclusive way. This will have a detrimental impact on students and their ability to make safe choices in the world of 2019.

"ETFO is not only bringing this case forward on behalf of our 83,000 members. We are here today on behalf of the children in Ontario public elementary schools who have the right to be taught a current curriculum that stresses safety and inclusivity," said President Sam Hammond today at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice building.

"The government's conduct is more than bad public policy," declared Hammond.

When the government first announced its intention to roll back the curriculum, ETFO advised its members that they should continue to exercise their professional judgement. The government responded by issuing a new curriculum accompanied by various public statements and media releases that can only be seen as interfering with the exercise of professional judgement by teachers. One of the messages was that teachers faced punishment if they strayed from the new curriculum – a minimal consequence was a potential report to the Ontario College of Teachers.

"When all the pieces of the puzzle are put together our case asserts that the government's fumbling of the curriculum has intimidated teachers, constrained their professional judgement and ensured that students will no longer be exposed to the comprehensive content of the 2015 curriculum that was stripped away by the government," added Hammond.

ETFO's legal team, Goldblatt Partners, compiled evidence of the potential negative effects of the curriculum change from parents, education professors, social workers, psychologists and experts in bullying prevention, gender violence and youth online activities among others. This evidence will be placed before the Court over the next two days.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at buildingbetterschools.ca.

For more information, contact ETFO Media Relations:
Valerie Dugale, 1-888-838-3836 x2331, cell: 416-948-0195, vdugale@etfo.org