Teachers, Schools Openings and Labor Law: A Tussle in Toronto

As Toronto is gearing up for opening the schools again, the teacher unions started asking questions about their safety and labor law. The teachers are demanding that the government should pay attention to the unsafe working condition of every individual teacher.

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However, the experienced labour lawyer Toronto is sensing impending troubles in this demand. The lawyers pointed out that the ministry of education has left most of the responsibilities of the back to school planning to the school boards. The school boards will, in turn, delegate to the individual schools about the steps that should be taken.

The lawyers think that it could create a lot of problems as there would be no consistency between the schools about their safety programs and protocols. Better guidance from the provincial government can only solve the issue smoothly.

Steps were taken By The Schools Unions

Four main teachers’ unions in the province have already appealed to the Ontario Labor Relations Board (OLRB). In their appeal, the school teachers’ unions have sought a stringent order from the OLRB that would compel the ministry of Labor to set blanket standards for cohorts, physical distancing, ventilation and school buses throughout the province.

About the possible work refusals, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has said that if something like that happens it would be completed on an individual basis.

Unique Challenge

The schools come up with a unique challenge as most of the buildings are very old and during school time, they are full of children and it doesn’t follow the guidelines for safety. The teachers said that this problem persists even when the students try their best to maintain the guidelines.

What does The Law state?

The labour lawyer Toronto points out that the law dictates that a worker who feels unsafe in their workspace can seek a resolution from his or her employer. If that resolution fails, an inspector of the Ministry of Labor gets called in to check the situation.

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A teacher who uses his or her right to refuse dangerous work should stay outside of the workplace when the claim gets investigated. The question is, who will keep eyes on the children, and what would happen if more than one teacher of a school walks out.

What Is the Labor Ministry Saying?

The Ministry of Labor is trying to find a solution for this unique problem. In a statement, the spokesperson of the Labor Minister has addressed the concerns of widespread work refusal by the teachers when the school starts.

The ministry acknowledged the justified fear of the parents and teachers about their health and the well-being of the children. However, the ministry reminded that throughout the pandemic, the frontline workers have been working ceaselessly while staying safe. The ministry also pointed out that the employers have taken unprecedented steps to protect the workers and to maintain the labor law of the province. The ministry believes that things will be the same for the schools and the education workers.

However, the rules about refusing unsafe work will continue to be implemented during COVID-19. If any workplace disagreement occurs about safety concerns, the government encourages employers and employees to communicate frankly to address the concern together. If they still can’t reach the resolution, they can contact the ministry.

In this situation, if you work in the education sector and are afraid of the health concerns you have to face once the schools open, you should contact labour lawyer Toronto. The lawyers can vet the situation and guide you to the right path.

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