OHS Canada Magazine

Teachers’ unions allege Ontario back-to-school plan breaks provincial law

Critique centres on 'all reasonable measures' and OHSA


TORONTO — Ontario’s four major teacher’s unions allege the province’s back-to-school plan violates its own occupational health and safety legislation.

The unions have asked for a meeting with the minister of labour and representatives to discuss the issue by next Friday.

They argue there is a lack of scientific consensus on significant aspects of COVID-19 and as such, the province is required under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to implement all reasonable measures to reduce the risks posed by the virus.

They allege the provincial plan fails to provide adequate health and safety protections such as smaller class sizes, minimal measurable standards for ventilation in schools, and mandatory masking for younger children.

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The unions — the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation — represent more than 190,000 teachers and education workers.

The province announced Thursday it’s going to allow school boards to access $500 million in their own reserves to achieve physical distancing.

The government says it will also spend $50 million to update school HVAC systems, and another $18 million for principal and support staff hires to help administer online learning.