Re: “No sense in scrapping disciplinary system for teachers that works — ATA,” letter, Airdrie City View, Jan 4, 2021.
I am responding to the letter submitted by Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) president Jason Schilling. As much as I don’t like to engage in a debate through letters to the editor, I felt compelled to respond to this particular piece.
First, what I am particularly interested in regarding this letter to the editor is Mr. Schilling's following comment: “I see no sense in scrapping a system that has worked well for over 100 years...” This is both interesting and disturbing. Mr. Schilling is suggesting the ATA should hang on to a system that is over a hundred years old, seeing no issues with that logic. I would suggest he either take a step back and review that statement or take a step forward into the 21st century.
The ATA seems to be the only self-regulating profession that believes having one body act as both the regulator (protecting the public) and association (representing its members) is acceptable. Bill C-46 – introduced over a year ago by the present government – mandates all health professions (there are 32 self-regulation health professions in Alberta) separate these entities as to ensure there is no conflict of interest. The legal profession as well is separated into regulatory (law societies) and association (Canadian Bar Association) branches. The teachers of Alberta have somehow avoided what is now common place among other self-regulating professions.
It seems the ATA wants to avoid moving into the 21st century being in alignment with all the other professions, either because of its outdated corporate culture, or because the ATA has the political pull to avoid that move for its own self-serving interests. This in and of itself should be more than enough reason to mandate the separation of the ATA into two separate branches as the health professions were mandated, and is the case with the legal profession.
Second, it appears Mr. Schilling is forgetting – or more worrisome is unaware – that all self-regulating professions are self-regulating at the pleasure of the minister of our respective professions. If the minister has concerns as to how a self-regulating profession is being managed, it is well within their rights and frankly responsibilities to take over that management. Ultimately, the government’s responsibility is to ensure the safety of the public and that the public interests are best served. It passes on that responsibility to a self-regulated profession but does not abdicate that responsibility. I would suggest this is the point Mr. Schilling is missing. His comments regarding who should manage a self-regulating profession, citing his concerns as to whether this should be done by the profession itself or the government of the day, shows either a lack of understanding of this hierarchy, or he is simply making a politically driven statement.
It may be time for the Education Minister to mandate the ATA to follow what the Minister of Health did in the form of Bill C-46.
Dr. James Trofimuk