On April 17, 2023, the Government of Ontario proposed Bill 98, the Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023. If passed, Bill 98 would make significant amendments to several education-related statutes, including the Education Act; the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007; and the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996.
Amendments to the Education Act
The proposed amendments to the Education Act fall into the following categories: unifying student learning outcomes, effective governance, financial oversight, and accountability to stakeholders.
Unifying Student Learning Outcomes
A key purpose of Bill 98 is to standardize learning goals across the province so that the Ministry of Education (the “Ministry”) will be able to evaluate each school board more effectively.
In this regard, Bill 98 enables the Minister of Education (the “Minister”) to establish binding policies and guidelines that outline provincial priorities in education. The Ministry of Education has indicated that it is seeking to prioritize reading, writing, and math, and that the Minister will review these priorities every three years. The Minister can also issue guidelines relating to the review and revision of curricula to ensure they are in line with current educational requirements and trends.
The Ministry has indicated a desire to similarly standardize how school boards respond to student mental health. Accordingly, the Minister will also be able to establish binding policies and guidelines regarding mental health and mental health-related learning materials.