In September 2010, the Ontario provincial government implemented
a new full-day kindergarten program, which is designed to be
staffed (subject to certain ratios) by a teacher and an Early
Childhood Educator (ECE). The influx of ECEs into
the education system has presented a number of labour relations
issues for school boards, particularly in respect of pay grids and
accounting for experience credit such that placement on the pay
grid can be determined.
This very issue went to arbitration this past summer before
Arbitrator Steinberg in Ontario Secondary School Teachers'
Federation, District 25 v. Ottawa-Carlton District School
Board. The arbitration was conducted by way of Final Offer
Selection, in which each party presented their proposal for the
appropriate manner of determining experience credit, and Arbitrator
Steinberg was bound to choose between the two proposals.
The two proposals were quite different in respect of the type of
prior experience that would be credited. The OSSTF proposal
provided a very broad formulation of a 1:1 credit for direct
employment in Ontario "for which ECE qualifications were
required". It also provided for pro-rated and capped credit
for related relevant employment "for which ECE qualifications
are not required" as well as a service element for current
employees of the Board who transfer into the positions.
The Board, on the other hand, had a much more narrowly focused
proposal. It granted 1:1 credit for direct experience as an ECE at
another school board, pro-rated credit was provided for ECEs with
experience as an Educational Assistant or Child Care Supervisor
with the Board and, more limited credit was provided, at the
discretion of the Board, for ECEs with related experience with
kindergarten- aged children in a licenced group facility.
Arbitrator Steinberg stated that each proposal had its strengths
and weaknesses, noting that the Board's proposal was
"overly rigid" and the OSSTF's proposal was
"overly vague". However, he ultimately chose the
Board's proposal, for the following reasons:
The OSSTF's proposal would place an undue administrative
burden on the Board;
The Board's proposal was a more likely outcome of
collective bargaining since it appeared to take into account that
the parties were dealing with an entirely new position in a new
context. He specifically took into account the fact that ECEs must
work with a teacher and from a curriculum with a specific age group
The ECE designation is relatively new both through its
regulation generally and through the full day kindergarten program.
Arbitrator Steinberg envisioned that the parties would fine tune
the experience credit provisions as they gain actual experience
with the full day kindergarten model;
The teacher model for experience credit for experience is not
an apt approach because the profession of ECEs is practiced in so
many different environments;
When reviewing the approach taken by other school boards, very
few agreements had analogous language to the proposal made by the
In the OSSTF's existing collective agreement with the
Board, there were some restrictions on credit for direct and
related experience; and
The wage grid has only five levels. The Board's proposal
did not have the effect of condemning new hires to lower placement
on the grid for many years.
Given that the arbitration was by Final Offer Selection and
Arbitrator Steinberg was bound to choose between the two proposals
(and could not substitute his own), the decision will be of limited
precedential value. In fact, in coming to his decision, Arbitrator
Steinberg was clear that, if he had the jurisdiction to do so, he
would not have chosen either proposal. Perhaps of more weight when
fashioning experience credit proposals in other jurisdictions, in
his decision, Arbitrator Steinberg stated:
I would have tried to fashion a
compromise that would retain the positive elements of both
proposals while avoiding the vagueness of the OSSTF proposal and
the narrowness of the OCDSB [Board] proposal. I think that the
types of provisions, with some modifications, which come closest to
that are reflected in the agreements at the Bluewater DSB and the
Renfrew County DSB (ironically both of these agreements are with
OSSTF Districts) and at the Limestone DSB.
Accordingly, while it is clear that the experience credit
proposal of the Board that was ultimately chosen should not be
regarded as a "model proposal", the decision is helpful
to other boards who are grappling with the issue of determining
experience credit. Arbitrator Steinberg clearly sets out the
criteria that he found relevant in choosing the appropriate
proposal, and he also points to agreements made at other school
boards that come closest to what he views as the most appropriate
approach to determining experience credit for ECEs.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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