The BCTF has reached agreement with the BC Public School Employers' Association and government on an interim measure to immediately create more than 1,000 new teaching positions while discussions continue on full restoration of teachers' unconstitutionally stripped collective agreement language.
“Since the BCTF won our court case back in November, we have been moving forward with two goals,” said BC Teachers' Federation President Glen Hansman. “The first goal was to get as many teachers as possible back into schools and classrooms as quickly as possible. This $50 million agreement is the first step. It means hundreds more teachers will be in schools working with students across the province in a matter of weeks. The second and most important goal- full implementation of the 2002 collective agreement language-will now be the focus of talks between the two parties.”
Hansman emphasized that today's agreement is in no way a final resolution, nor does it impact a future agreement on full implementation of the restored language. While the new funding is badly needed, and will help many teachers and students, the government will have to provide significantly more funding to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling.
“With this interim measure agreed to, the parties can now turn to the crucial task of fully implementing all the language that was restored by the court,” said Hansman. “The two sides will be meeting again next week to continue discussions. The BCTF's goal is to ensure these talks are not long or drawn out and that all Boards of Education, schools, teachers, students, and parents have certainty about how and when the language will be restored.
“It's important for parents and the public to understand how our contract language made a difference for kids. It guaranteed supports for students with special needs, and manageable class sizes for all. It ensured teacher-librarians, counsellors, English language and other specialist teachers were there to give students the individual attention they need,” Hansman said.
“It has been almost 15 years to the day since then-Education Minister Christy Clark first brought in the unconstitutional legislation. The work to repair the damage to public education has only just begun.
“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. BC teachers will be looking closely at the February 21 provincial budget to make sure that funding is provided. To implement the full scope of the restored language.”
Key points of the Memorandum of Agreement include:
- $50 million in new funding from the Ministry of Education to create 1,000-1,100 teacher full-time equivalents (FTE) for the balance of the 2016-17 school year.
- The new funding will be used to implement two priority measures: adding enrolling-teacher positions and non-enrolling positions in schools (for example: counsellors, teacher-librarians, special education teachers, and other specialists across all grades).
- Allocation of the net new funding at the school district level needs to be jointly developed and decided through a district committee established by the Superintendent and the local union President. Decisions about what jobs will be posted and where needs to be decided by the local parties. There will also be a dispute resolution process if there is no agreement between local parties.