UPDATE: 1,100 teachers to be hired in interim staffing deal

NDP's Rob Fleming says Christy Clark government has a long way to go, thousands of classes don't even meet current class size rules

The province and B.C. Teachers Federation have negotiated an interim settlement to their long-running dispute over staffing levels, a $50 million fund to hire up to 1,100 teachers for the current school year.

Education Minister Mike Bernier announced the agreement Thursday, stressing that there will be additional ongoing funding in the B.C. Liberal government’s February budget to finance a full agreement.

The announcement is a step towards the end of a lengthy legal battle between the government and the union that first began in 2002, when then-education minister Christy Clark removed class size and special needs support staffing ratios from the union contract.

The dispute went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in the teachers’ favour in November 2016.

Bernier said negotiations may continue for some time, but the province didn’t want to wait.

“If it is quite a few more months, that would be an opportunity lost, and we didn’t want to do that,” Bernier said.

The actual number of teachers hired will be determined by school districts and their local unions. The new positions will include classroom teachers, special education teachers, speech language pathologists, behaviour intervention specialists, school psychologists, aboriginal support teachers, counsellors including for mental health, English as a second language teachers, and teacher librarians.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Glen Hansman said the interim agreement means more teachers “in a matter of weeks,” but the union and the government will resume meetings next week to restore the 2002 contract language upheld by the courts.

“It’s going to take a significantly higher investment than $50 million to undo the damage this government has done to a generation of students,” Hansman said.

“B.C. teachers will be looking closely at the Feb. 21 provincial budget to make sure that funding is provided to implement the full scope of the restored language.”

NDP education critic Rob Fleming said the agreement represents a “down payment on restoring 15 years of cuts” to B.C. public schools, after the B.C. Liberal government spent millions on lawyers to defend their actions and was finally forced to restore funding.

“We have something like 15,000 classrooms in British Columbia right now that are out of compliance, even with the government’s own guidelines, so they’re already behind in the absence of hard targets,” Fleming said.


@ashwadhwaniashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Victoria Drum Fest continues to attract topnotch international talent

Festival founder Murray Creed expects 10th anniversary event May 26 will be the best yet

MATHIEU POIRIER: New Island brewery tour book a great resource for beer fans

Learn some of the background of local breweries in Island Craft, by Jon C. Stott

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

Canadiana complete when Murray McLauchlan’s in the house

Legendary singer/songwriter brings his folksy talents to the McPherson on June 13

Van Isle Comic Con swings into Sidney in June

Convention lists animators, actors as guests, variety of cosplay prizes to be won

VIDEO: Royal BC Museum unveiling rare artifacts in upcoming Maya exhibit

La Corona Altar 5 depicts story of king and dynasties

Special Report: Front line work by caring emergency doctors

Dr. Jason Wale uses unique program to help people with addictions in Greater Victoria

Action on climate change a moral commitment: author

Dahr Jamail to speak in Sooke on June 4

Put your love of reading to good use June 1

Bolen Books hosting Summer Readathon to help the Victoria Literacy Connection

Opioid Crisis Special Report: Hidden demographic served by West Shore clinic

AIDS Vancouver Island-run clinic provides opioid agonist treatment to almost 200 people

Most Read