Less than four months after the BC Teachers' Federation won a landmark victory at the Supreme Court of Canada, a tentative agreement with the employer and government has been reached. The agreement fully restores all of the substantive collective agreement language that was unconstitutionally stripped in 2002 by then-Education Minister Christy Clark.
BCTF President Glen Hansman said, “The tentative agreement, if ratified, will allow the next school year to start with thousands more teachers, smaller class sizes, better class composition, and specialist-teacher ratios. BC teachers have been fighting for 15 years to defend our rights and to restore our working conditions. If ratified, this agreement will mean the beginning of a new chapter in public education in BC, one in which teachers will once again have the time to give students the individual care and attention they need and deserve. School libraries and counselling offices will be re-opened, shop and lab classes will have safety standards restored, and all classrooms will be properly supported.”
The tentative agreement is still subject to a province-wide vote of BCTF members, as well as the BC Public School Employers' Association's process. BCTF members will vote March 8-10, 2017.
“The BCTF Executive Committee has endorsed the tentative agreement and is recommending ratification to our members,” said Hansman. In January, the government agreed to fund 1,100 new full-time teaching positions for the current school year. Many of those positions are now filled and those teachers are already supporting students.
“Now, which this tentative agreement achieves, teachers will see full restoration of our working conditions. If ratified, schools right across BC will see smaller classes, more specialists like counsellors, special education teachers, and learning assistance teachers, and more support for children with special needs.”
Hansman also expressed his deep gratitude to BC's 41,000 public school teachers for standing with their union in defence of their rights for so long. “Thank you to all of BC's public school teachers, present and past, for all of your support over the years, your tenacity in defending our rights, and commitment to standing up for your students. It took 15 years, but we are on the verge of having our language back and restoring what was wrongfully taken away.”
For teachers, full details of the Agreement-in-Committee are posted on the Federation's MyBCTF.ca portal and BCTF members have been emailed with more information.