OTF Decision on 50-day rule

ETFO February 22nd, 2024 statement on recruitment and retention crisis in Ontario

Expanding on the 50-day rule decision, March 22nd, 2024

The Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) stands by its position that Ontario’s publicly funded schools require systemic solutions to systemic challenges. OTF asserts that framing an amendment to the 50-day rule as a solution belies the facts. Amending the 50-day rule is not the solution the Government suggests it is.

The Ministry’s characterization of OTF’s decision is disingenuous; it deflects attention from the root causes of the teacher recruitment and retention problem in Ontario. The fact is that retired teachers always have the choice to continue teaching beyond the 50-day rule limit; they only need to pause their pensions temporarily.

On March 4, 2024, OTF received a letter from the Minister of Education requesting support for an amendment to the 50-day rule, extending it to 95 days to allow some retired teachers and administrators to continue working without impacting their pension. This band-aid measure clearly has failed to solve the recruitment and retention problem that continues to plague schools in Ontario. Hiring unqualified individuals and re-employing retired teachers does nothing to solve a problem of the Government’s making. The amendment distracts stakeholders from identifying underlying causes and pursuing robust solutions.

A pool of over 30,000 qualified, certified teachers in the province are not employed in Ontario school boards and classrooms. It’s worth asking why. There is also a cohort of thousands of teacher candidates who, in a few short weeks, will also be among those available and eager to take on supply, short-term and long-term occasional, and permanent positions.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (The Plan) is intended to provide a secure income for pensioners in retirement. The Plan was never intended or designed to address labour market challenges. In the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, OTF reluctantly agreed to support an amendment to the
50-day rule, extending re-employment limits to 95 days, as a temporary measure. This limited measure was intended to address unanticipated and unprecedented challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the announcement on the 18th of March, we have had numerous communications with retired members. A considerable number of those communications confirm what we have worried about since the 50-day rule was amended during the COVID-19 pandemic; there is an expectation this measure is the new normal and has become an incentive for some to take early retirement and seek re-employment.

In the 2022-2023 school year, having recognized that chronic ailments persisted in the system, OTF agreed to the same amendment on the condition that the Ministry agree to strike a Teacher Supply and Demand Action Table with various education stakeholders. The purpose of this Action Table is to explore the root causes of the recruitment and retention issue in Ontario schools and to land on recommendations leading to tangible solutions. The recommendations from the Action Table were to be implemented in the 2023-2024 school year.

Members matter and so does the work they do. OTF’s decision to decline an amendment to the 50-day rule is born out of a desire to ensure that a temporary reprieve does not camouflage or exacerbate real causes. It is imperative that the Ministry does not conflate a temporary, band-aid measure with a permanent cure. Ontario’s teachers deserve more support and practical solutions from this Government.

OTF declines Ministry of Education’s request to amend 50-day re-employment rule, March 18th 2024

The Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) has declined the Ministry of Education’s request to support the amendment of the 50-day re-employment rule to 95 days for some retired teachers and administrators for the 2023-2024 school year.

In each of the last three school years, OTF has reluctantly agreed to the Ministry’s request to temporarily increase the limit to help address some of the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amending the rule was only ever envisioned as a short-term measure. Deflecting responsibility onto retired teachers is neither a sufficient nor a sustainable option to address staffing challenges. Changing the rule for retired members neither encourages working teachers to remain in the system nor does it attract prospective candidates to join the profession.

“The Pension Plan is designed to provide an income to retired teachers; it is not a tool for addressing labour market challenges. Ultimately, the teacher recruitment and retention challenge is a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions,” stated OTF President Yves Durocher.

A full year ago this month, when the system was faced with the same issue for a third year in a row, the Minister of Education agreed to OTF’s request to establish a multi-stakeholder Teacher Supply and Demand Action Table where long-term and sustainable solutions to teacher recruitment and retention could be developed and implemented in the 2023-2024 school year. With three months until the end of the school year, recommendations from the Action Table are expected in the coming weeks. Instead of relying again on a change to a pension plan rule that clearly has not addressed root causes, OTF urges the Minister to focus on, and commit to, implementing evidence-informed recommendations surfaced at the Action Table.

Ontario’s teachers and education workers are eager to continue providing high-quality education to the students of this province. We are also willing to work with the ministry to meaningfully address the serious staffing recruitment and retention issues faced by Ontario schools.

The Ontario Teachers’ Federation is the advocate for the teaching profession in Ontario and for its 160,000+ teachers. OTF members are full-time, part-time and occasional teachers in all the publicly funded schools in the province—elementary, secondary, public, Catholic and francophone.

For more information, contact:

Ian S. Pettigrew, Secretary-Treasurer



JOINT STATEMENT - No more band-aid solutions - Ford govt must deliver a real plan to address the growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis

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