Alberta’s education minister has spoken up after learning Red Deer Catholic schools had employees sign a form describing being in a same-sex relationship as a breach of contract.
David Eggen said he was deeply concerned to hear any school board was making employees sign a document saying “it is not OK to be gay.”
“That’s simply not acceptable in today’s Alberta,” said Eggen. “Our government firmly believes that LGBTQ rights are human rights. We will not condone discrimination against people on the basis of who they love.”
Eggen says officials at Red Deer Catholic assured his office they no longer have employees sign the form.
“That’s certainly good news. If there are teachers who are concerned they currently have the old breach of contract clause on their files, they should address the matter with their employer or their association local,” said Eggen.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association released a statement saying the issues related to Catholicity clauses in employment contracts are “legally complex and involve multiple and potentially conflicting constitutional rights.”
“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,” the statement said.
The union says the association advises teachers to be mindful of the terms of employment they agree to when accepting a contract of employment.
However, if a school board “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 provide additional protection for teachers from discrimination in their employment, the statement added.