Integral role

Dear editor:
On Thursday, Dec. 8, an article appeared in the Daily Bulletin with the headline, “Spare teachers may strike.”
I must take exception to the term “spare” teachers. The correct term for a teacher who replaces an absent permanent teacher is occasional teacher.
Occasional teachers must have the same qualifications as any other teacher in Ontario before they are allowed into a classroom. All occasional teachers have at least one university degree and must be registered with the Ontario College of Teachers.
They are subject to the same background checks and are expected to perform to the same high standards.
Occasional teachers are essential to our system of education. They are the teachers who replace classroom teachers on maternity leave, or who come in at a moment’s notice when a classroom teacher is ill or out of the school for any reason.
It would be very difficult to run academics, athletics, drama, music, or other extra-curricular activities without skilled occasional teachers available to replace the classroom teacher when he or she is ill, or travelling with a group of students.
There are many occasional teachers, both elementary and secondary, in our system. These teachers perform a vital service and do so in a professional manner—often with little notice.
Occasional teachers are skilled professionals who often choose to work occasionally and not full-time. They are an integral part of our system of education and are not “spare” teachers.
Andrew Hallikas
Chief negotiator,
Secondary Occasional
Teacher Bargaining Unit