Question: I know that the Alberta Teachers’ Association belongs to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). What is the CTF, and how do Alberta teachers benefit from our membership?
Answer: The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is the national organization of teacher unions, associations and federations. It represents almost all the teacher organizations operating in all of Canada’s provinces and territories, with the only major exception being the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), which represents about 45,000 elementary and high school teachers working in Quebec’s public francophone school system; teachers in the public anglophone system in that province belong to the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) which is a CTF member organization.
Generally, the CTF co-ordinates and acts as the agent of the ATA and other provincial teacher organizations on matters and programs affecting teachers nationally and globally. This includes lobbying on federal legislation affecting teachers, co-ordinating advocacy and collective action on issues of concern to teachers, providing a clearing house for research, information and statistics, and operating programs that facilitate teacher co-operation in international settings.
Some examples where the CTF is making a difference for Alberta teachers include its successful campaign to create the Eligible Educator School Supply Tax Credit, a 15 per cent refundable tax credit that qualifying educators in Canada can claim on up to $1,000 of out-of-pocket school supply purchases made by them per year.
The CTF has also been actively campaigning to preserve provisions in the Criminal Code that protect teachers from being charged with assault in situations where they have had to use reasonable force to protect themselves and others from students acting out violently in school situations.
In conjunction with the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC), the CTF has been intervening with the federal government and in the Federal Court to preserve teachers’ right to “fair use” of copyrighted materials in their classrooms. The CTF is pushing back hard against the Access Copyright consortium’s attempt to force provincial governments and schools to pay millions of dollars for the presentation, sharing or duplication of limited selections from copyrighted material of all descriptions and to impose on individual teachers the onerous administrative burden of tracking and reporting classroom use of such copyrighted materials. (See pg 11.)
Research undertaken by the CTF and member organizations is shared and used in support of provincial and local initiatives. The ATA has made extensive use of CTF documentation in responding to the issue of aggression in school and in compiling evidence in support of collective bargaining. The CTF’s work in the area of diversity, equity and human rights, Indigenous education, the status of women, francophone education and the teaching profession informs and supports the Association’s own activities in these areas.
Alberta teachers have been very active in Project Overseas, a CTF program that places Canadian teachers with their counterparts in devloping countries to assist with the development of curriculum, instruction, technology and teacher professional preparation. Since 2005, more than 100 Alberta teachers have participated, many on multiple occasions. This year another 10 Alberta teachers (the second largest Canadian contingent) will be travelling to destinations in Africa and the Caribbean to work with our professional colleagues there.
A recent grant to CTF from Global Affairs Canada will provide teachers from Canada with additional opportunities to work with the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) in the development of girls’ education in that country. Other emergent international humanitarian and relief efforts are co-ordinated through the CTF.
Most importantly, though, at a time when provincial governments are gleefully sharing ideas and policies that are hostile to teachers and public education, the CTF provides a forum for the elected representatives and staff of member organizations to share intelligence and learning across the provinces. The CTF provides a forum for collective problem solving and the sharing of best practices in collective bargaining, professional development, communication, political action, advocacy, member services, pensions and benefits.
It costs the Association $29.30 per teacher to belong to the CTF. ❚
Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Dennis Theobald at Barnett House (firstname.lastname@example.org).