12/03/2014 03:36 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST

Government to introduce self-regulated body to oversee discipline of teachers

REGINA - Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan introduced legislation Wednesday to create a self-regulating disciplinary system for the province's teachers.

Morgan said a new board will be responsible for teacher certification and discipline related to misconduct or incompetence.

"Today's announcement is about maintaining public trust in a disciplinary process," he said. "It's about protecting the integrity of the teaching profession and it's about improving the safety of our students. Of course, our work doesn't end here. In the coming months, we will work to establish an interim board of directors."

The move follows concerns that current legislation is too complex, inefficient and not transparent.

"These changes will ensure consistency and transparency in the regulatory process," said Morgan. "Teachers are professionals; they deserve to be treated like other professions in our province, like doctors, lawyers and nurses. That is why this legislation will provide teachers with the same authority and responsibility as other self-regulated professions in the province."

The regulatory body would take over some of the processes currently managed by organizations including the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation.

The federation is currently responsible for disciplining teachers but is also the union that represents teachers.

Gwen Dueck, executive director of the STF, noted that the union has carried out the disciplinary function since the mid-1950s.

"We've had very rigorous processes during the time," she stressed. "There is a perception that we are advocating for teachers but we are also advocating for students ... and the public. The minister acknowledged that our current processes are rigorous."

Dueck said the STF has worked in conjunction with the government to develop the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board, which will be launched in the fall of 2015.

"We do appreciate that we've had an opportunity for input. We did caution the ministry about a unilateral imposition of legislation that we would not have had an opportunity to be involved in drafting."

She said having the single board responsible for the whole province will address some of the "fragmentation issues" that have come up in the past but added there are "lots of details to be worked out yet in the bylaws."