On May 8, 2018, Bill 31, the Plan for Care and Opportunity Act (Budget Measures), 2018 (the “Act”) received Royal Assent. The Act amended the disciplinary mechanisms of the Ontario College of Teachers Act and the Early Childhood Educators Act. Members of either the College of Teachers or the College of Early Childhood Educators who are found guilty of an act of professional misconduct consisting of, or including, sexual abuse of a child or a prohibited act involving child pornography will now have their licences automatically suspended and revoked.

The amendments also expand the scope of acts that will result in mandatory revocation of a member’s license to include “touching of a sexual nature of the student’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks,” as well as other conduct of a sexual nature as may be prescribed by regulation.

Significantly, these amendments apply to an act of professional misconduct that occurred before the amendments came into force, provided that no order has already been made in respect of the matter.

Additional amendments, not yet in force, provide for the creation of a program to fund therapy and counselling for students who are subject to sexual abuse or a prohibited act involving child pornography in which an allegation has been made against a member of the Ontario College of Teachers or the College of Early Childhood Educators. A member can also be ordered to reimburse the College for the cost of a student’s therapy and counselling. The Investigation Committee of the Ontario College of Teachers and the Complaints Committee of the College of Early Childhood Educators will also have the authority to order medical assessments of members to assess them for incapacity.

The provision of therapeutic and counselling services is an important step for supporting students who are victims.  Hopefully, the fund might also be accessed retroactively.