BCTF Bargaining 2019:
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 by June 30, 2019,
when the current one expires. Since there is a collective agreement in place
until then, these contract talks will not affect schools in any way.
What are BC teachers asking for?
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
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
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?
As of February 2019, there were
still more than 300 unfilled teaching positions in BC. With more than half the
school year completed, that means BC kids haven’t received 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.
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
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!