Regulator Watch: The new Teachers Act

The new Teachers Act that will dissolve the BC College of Teachers and replace it with the BC Teachers’ Council has now received Royal Assent. The majority of the new Act will not come into effect, however, until the Lieutenant Governor in Council issues Regulations triggering its commencement.

Under the new regime, key changes will include the Registrar’s position being replaced with a Cabinet-appointed Commissioner that Minister Abbott has said will be someone with substantial expertise in administrative law.

The Council will consist of 15 members, three to be nominated by the BC Teachers’ Federation, five to be elected to represent different areas of the Province, and seven to be appointed by the Minister of Education. This will still leave a slight majority of teachers on Council. Furthermore, Council appointments under the new Act will require consultations with prescribed persons and organizations. The Legislature’s debates suggest that these organizations will include the BC School Trustees Association, the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association, the Independent Schools Association of BC and the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, among others.

Under the new Act, the director of certification can rescind a teacher’s certificate if new information comes to light that was not disclosed to the director prior to the issuance of a certificate, and which the director considers could have affected the decision to issue the certificate. The certificate holder may provide written submissions during this process for the director to consider, but there is no option for a hearing on this decision to rescind until it is further appealed to the commissioner under the Act, in which case the Commissioner must either dismiss the appeal after a preliminary review, or refer the appeal to a panel for a hearing.

Oral disciplinary hearings under the new legislation must be open to the public, with the caveat that the panel will retain certain discretion to close parts of a hearing when the interests of a person or the public interest weigh in favour of such partial non-disclosure.

The Teachers Act is not yet available on bclaws.ca, but the version introduced for First Reading (and later enacted) can be found on BC’s legislative website here.