A retired teacher is filing a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission because of a school district policy that restricts retirees from working as supply teachers.
Fred Hall, 67, says the policy of the Anglophone East school district that excludes retired teachers from the supply teacher list amounts to age discrimination.
Hall, who is from Nova Scotia, used to get some supply work in New Brunswick and says he faced discrimination because of his age.
"This particular elementary teacher said to me, `We take the live ones first,'" he said. "Well, does that mean I'm dead?"
Hall says his hours eventually dried up completely, leading to the filing of his complaint with the human rights commission. He says by preventing retired teachers from working as substitutes, the Anglophone East school district is practicing ageism.
Hall was recently notified that because his teaching career wasn't in New Brunswick, he is eligible to work as a supply teacher in this province after all. However, he is still moving ahead with his human rights complaint.
Anglophone East district superintendent Gregg Ingersoll defends the policy, saying the intent is to develop the next generation of teachers.
"Retired teachers have a pension," said Ingersoll. "They've already done their career, whereas these new people, this is their only income."
That is also the view of supply teacher Kathy Chapman, who says new teachers need experience.
"My own personal opinion is retired is retired, especially given the number of qualified young people that can't find work right now," she said.
The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says retired teachers have a lot to offer schools, often as volunteers.
But Peter Fullerton says when it comes to hiring supply teachers, the focus should be on the next generation of educators.
"We have so many, and those are the people we want in the schools," he said.
"Teaching is a very difficult job. If you're looking at trying to bring new blood in, that's what keeps the system vibrant and I think it's important," said Fullerton. "And you want to keep them here so they work into those full-time positions."