Legislation to require criminal background checks for Nova Scotia educators

Nova Scotia is beefing up safety reporting protocols for teachers and others employed by the education system, including mandatory criminal record checks every five years.

Education Minister Zach Churchill says proposed amendments to the Education Act would also require annual declarations that an individual has not been convicted of an offence.

He says the moves are aimed at improving student safety and are a direct response to a recent series of assault and sexual assault charges involving educators in the province.

The legislation is similar to reporting regimes already in place in provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia.

Churchill says the initial background checks, as happens now, will be paid for by employees, with subsequent checks paid for by the province at a cost of $225,000 per year.

The legislation will also allow for regulations to set out record check requirements for volunteers.