London, Ont. school board looking to hire hundreds as decade-long teacher surplus ends

For years many certified teachers have struggled to find permanent employment within a school board in Ontario, but the province's decade-long teacher surplus has come to an end.

"Over the last few years, a perfect storm has happened. Increase in enrollment for student population, increased retirement, and two-year teachers college program has now created the opposite effect, in that we are looking for many teachers,” said the director of education with the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB), Vince Romeo.

Romeo says teachers who would be close to a retirement age, may have been influenced to retire after their experience teaching during the pandemic last year.

The Ontario College of Teachers confirms the next several years will challenge district school boards in every area of recruitment, as the number of teachers retiring is almost parallel with the new teacher graduate roster.

The shortage has led to the creation of a new position within the LDCSB called "temporary classroom support personnel," allowing students currently enrolled in teachers college to supply in an emergency situation.

The Thames Valley District School Board says it utilizes student teachers as occasional substitutes for French language programming on an ‘as-needed basis.’

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Thames Valley Local President Craig Smith says, pandemic aside, there's already a lot of pressures on the system.

"Teaching is a busy job to begin with, I mean it doesn't just happen between nine and 3:30 within the instructional day. It's like an iceberg -- most of what’s going on behind the scenes or under the water, you don’t see.”

Smith adds that there has not been much relief for teachers during the pandemic.

'There's not a lot of attraction to the profession now, it's a hard gig on a good day, and it's got all the pressures we had before the pandemic, this adds to it,” said Smith.

When it comes to losing teachers because of their vaccination status, the Catholic board says only one support staff has been suspended without pay. And the public board has suspended five permanent teachers and five permanent support staff.

Prior to this shortage, teachers could not transfer across district school boards. But Ontario changed that regulation in 2020, allowing district school boards across the province the ability to consider all qualified applicants for long-term occasional and permanent job vacancies.

The LDCSB is looking to hire 300 teachers, and another 300 support staff. The board will be holding an open house on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at their headquarters on 5200 Wellington Rd. S., London.