Alberta’s Education Minister to review employment contracts of Catholic school boards
David Eggen, Alberta’s Minister of Education, has requested copies of the employment contracts of all faith-based school divisions in the province after concerns were raised regarding the covenants and Catholicity clauses. The move is in response to the allegations of several teachers who claimed the Calgary Catholic School District’s covenant is homophobic and discriminatory.
Speaking in Edmonton on Friday, Eggen said the review of the contracts will ensure the documents are legal and not ‘out of step’. The Education Minister lauded the excellent education Alberta’s Catholic schools provide, stating they serve the province well, but says their statements of faith cannot contravene the law.
“You can have testations of faith, that’s one thing. To deny someone employment, or termination based on their sexuality or other factors, is definitely not acceptable.”
The Calgary Catholic School District introduced its covenant in 2017. Officials say it’s intended to be an aspirational tool and all administrators are required to sign the agreement.
CTV News has obtained a copy of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools' conditions of employment. The document includes a section regarding the board's stance on the relationships of employees:
“Specifically, in regards to relationships, I recognize that if I am now, or at any time that I am in the employ of Red Deer Catholic, involved in a same-sex relationship, or a relationship outside of the traditional Catholic Church definition of marriage (including a “common law” relationship), I am in breach of my employment contract.”
Alberta’s bishops met on Friday to discuss the contracts but elected not to discuss the issue publicly.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association issued a statement Friday morning regarding the ‘legally complex’ Catholicity clauses in teacher employment contracts. In the statement, attributed to communications officer Laura Harris, the association stated the following:
“The Association opposes the inclusion of clauses in contracts of employment that are discriminatory and that interfere with the teachers’ natural and human rights. We recognize that denominational education is protected under the Charter, however, our policy calls upon Catholic boards, notwithstanding their special constitutional status, to refrain from hiring and employment practices that would be discriminatory.”
“We do advise teachers that they must be mindful of the terms of employment that they agree to when accepting a contract of employment, however if a school board ever used these clauses to justify discriminatory practices or to disregard human rights, we would vigorously assist, defend and protect the teachers involved to the greatest extent possible. Recent changes in provincial legislation (Bill 24) provide additional protection for teachers from discrimination in their employment.”
With files from CTV’s Brenna Rose