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BCTF Bargaining 2019–20:
Our Kids and Their Teachers are Worth Investing In

In February 2019, the BC Teachers’ Federation began bargaining with the provincial government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association, the group that represents school districts. The BCTF’s goal is to negotiate a new collective agreement that supports teachers and students with better teaching and learning conditions.

What are BC teachers asking for?

Salary improvements

Teachers work hard in busy, diverse, and complicated classrooms every single day to give all students the support they need. They deserve fair pay for their work. But over the past 16 years, teachers’ salaries in BC have fallen behind other provinces. This infographic shows BC teacher salaries compared with the rest of Canada.

BC needs to improve teachers’ salaries and offer other recruitment and retention initiatives to ensure our schools and classrooms are properly staffed to support all students. 

Teaching and learning conditions improvements

After a long legal battle against the former BC Liberal government, in 2016 the BCTF won a landmark victory at the Supreme Court of Canada that restored provisions related to class-size, class-composition, specialist teacher staffing ratios, and school-based team. They had been unconstitutionally stripped away by then Education Minister Christy Clark in 2002. That led to 15 years of teacher layoffs, cuts to specialist teachers, increased class sizes, and fewer supports for students with special needs.

In a few school districts, there are actually no standards for class-size in Grades 4–12; in many school districts, there are no reference to class composition, so no additional staffing is generated so that teachers can better address individual students’ learning needs. And there are no class size standards for Distributed Learning or Adult Education programs around the province. Now that bargaining has started again, it’s possible to make some improvements—by addressing gaps in protections across the 60 school districts, and trying to make improvements in some key areas. 

How does collective agreement language help kids and teachers?

Collective agreement standards on class-size, class-composition, and staffing ratios drive increased supports into schools. That means more teachers providing much needed services to students, especially those with special needs.  

When the BCTF’s stripped contract language was restored by the court, the BC government was required to create 3,700 new teaching positions. Class sizes got smaller and more specialists like school counsellors, teacher-librarians, and special education teachers started working with students. Without the collective agreement provisions, those improved services are threatened. In addition, the standards in the collective agreement are the “floor,” not the “ceiling.” With proper government funding, supports for students can always be enhanced.

How is the teacher shortage affecting BC kids?

At the start of this school year, there were still more than 500 unfilled teaching positions in BC. That means BC kids are not receiving all of the supports they need. The shortage grows when you consider all the on-call teachers needed to fill in for sick days and the historic number of unqualified and uncertified individuals currently teaching in classrooms.There are more uncertified adults in schools today than even before.

Throughout this school year and the previous one, there were many instances when students with special needs had their specific programs or instruction cancelled because of the shortage. Too often, specialist teachers are being redeployed from their small group or one-on-one work to cover classroom vacancies.

According to labour market projection, BC is going to need 17,000 new teaching staff over the next decade due to retirement and enrolment growth, so inaction will only make the problem worse.

Watch and share the BCTF’s latest television ad on Facebook and Twitter to help let the government know that our kids and their teachers are worth investing in!

More ways to help

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Worth Investing In brochure for parents PDF

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