HALIFAX, NS — Today, five universities across Nova Scotia (Acadia, Cape Breton, Mount Saint Vincent, St. Francis Xavier and Sainte-Anne) launched legal action against the Nova Scotia’s Teachers Union (NSTU) in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.
The five universities seek a Declaration that the NSTU’s December 5th, 2016, Work-to-Rule job action and its Directive that “Teachers will not accept or supervise student teachers, fill out assessments from external agencies unless required by law…” violates Section 31 of the Education Act.
Section 31 requires teachers to admit student teachers to school classrooms, and, supervise and evaluate their required Teacher Practicum.
A separate motion was filed seeking an emergency injunction to alleviate irreparable harm to student teachers caused by the Work-to-Rule job action, so they can commence their Teacher Practicum as soon as possible, and, to address the irreparable harm being done to the reputation of the affected universities and their respective education programs.
Nearly 600 education students across the five universities (see fact sheet) are directly affected by the NSTU’s Directive.
Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University, speaking on behalf of the affected universities, said that “The urgency of this situation required the matter be placed before the Supreme Court as the best way to stand up for students and protect their interests. If the job action continues, nearly 300 of our students will not graduate on time, causing harm and risk to their future careers.”
Dr. MacDonald continued, “I know all my colleagues are deeply concerned about the seriousness of this issue and its potential long-term impacts on our students and universities. We have asked the court for an early hearing date and hope that an emergency injunction will be granted so that education students may begin their Teacher Practicum without further delay. The interests of our students must be recognized and acted upon.”
The five affected universities reached out to the Nova Scotia Government and the NSTU during the month of December seeking a remedy to this urgent matter and corresponded with NSTU officials on December 22nd, January 9th and 13th seeking either an immediate face-to-face meeting or teleconference call with university Presidents to resolve this situation. The NSTU did not respond favourably to this reasonable request.
University leaders consistently emphasized with NSTU officials that the timely resolution of the situation was critical to negating any potential hardship for education students, including not completing program criteria required for graduation in 2017, achieving teacher certification and future professional standing.
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For further information, contact:
Cindy MacKenzie, Manager, Media Relations, St. Francis Xavier University
Direct: (902) 872-2401
Mobile: (902) 872-0612