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BCTF Advantage

Public Education Advocates Newsletter

September 6, 2013, Issue #1

  • A fair deal for teachers—better support for kids
  • BCTF supports CUPE K–12 bargaining
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission events
  • What can you do?

“A fair deal for teachers—better support for kids”  

Jim Iker, in his opening address to the BCTF Summer Conference on August 23, reiterated his message loud and clear. He called on the government to scrap the 10-year sound bite and to put their minds to real bargaining that offers the necessary resources and solutions for teachers and students. Bargaining will resume after October 3, when the court case regarding the remedy for Bills 28 and 22 is completed. The BCTF is seeking a remedy that properly addresses the stripping of our collective agreements and our right to collective bargaining.

BCTF supports CUPE K–12 bargaining: Government must step up  

Most of BC’s non-teaching school board employees are CUPE members. CUPE collective agreements expired over a year ago. As the union that represents these workers, CUPE is calling on the provincial government to bring the necessary resources to the bargaining table in order to negotiate a fair deal. Although negotiations have been “stop-and-start”, CUPE is back at the bargaining table this week.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender recently indicated that the province will not provide school boards any additional funding to cover the costs of newly negotiated collective agreements with CUPE workers. This will leave cash-strapped boards again in the position of having to make further cuts to budgets already stretched to the breaking point by more than 10 years of underfunding.

In August, BCTF local representatives attending the Summer Representative Assembly in Kamloops unanimously passed two recommendations. Delegates called upon the government to negotiate with CUPE in good faith and to fully fund any negotiated settlement. As well, the delegates expressed solidarity with CUPE and support for its efforts to conclude a negotiated collective agreement.

British Columbia Truth and Reconciliation Week, September 16–22 

For more than 120 years, thousands of Aboriginal children in British Columbia were sent to Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government and run by the churches. They were taken from their families and communities in order to be stripped of language, cultural identity, and traditions. Canada’s attempt to wipe out Aboriginal cultures failed. But it left an urgent need for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

The City of Vancouver is the first municipality in Canada to proclaim June 21, 2013 to June 20, 2014 as the Year of Reconciliation 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is holding its BC National Event from September 18 21, 2013, at the Pacific National Exhibition site in Vancouver. On Education Day, Thursday September 19, 2013, visiting school groups will see cultural performances and films, visit artisans and other displays, and witness survivor statements,sharing circles, and more.

Reconciliation Canada will host activities before and after the TRC BC National Event, including:

  • Lighting the Fire of Reconciliation, September 16, 8:00 a.m., Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver. A sacred fire will be lit to symbolize the commencement of Reconciliation Week.
  • All Nations Canoe Gathering, September 1, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.,False Creek VancouverPaddlers will start from Kits Point to the Olympic Village. People-powered crafts will join traditional canoes in a welcome ceremony to Coast Salish lands. 
  • Walk for Reconciliation: A New Way Forward, September 22, 9:00 a.m., Queen Elizabeth Plaza, Vancouver. From Queen Elizabeth Plaza to Creekside Park. Bringing Canada’s many cultures to walk a path together in a shared commitment to reconciliation.

Be a part of the National Journey for Healing and Reconciliation! All gatherings are open to the public and admission is free. 

What can you do? 

  1. Send a message encouraging the provincial government to properly fund agreements with both teachers and other staff in the public education system. Write your MLA or your school board chair. Speak out for increased investment in public schools.
  2. Visit the CUPE BC website for updated information, including a television and radio campaign in support of CUPE members who keep BC schools clean, safe, and inclusive.
  3. Visit the Reconciliation Canada events website to get details on all the events associated with British Columbia Truth and Reconciliation Week.
  4. Ask others to join our Public Education Advocacy e-mail list to read about the issues and get involved.
  5. Check out our Facebook page and become a friend. Join us on Twitter.
  6.  Our easy-to-read pamphlet The numbers tell the story clearly highlights the loss of teachers and specialists, the worsening student-educator ratio, and the increased numbers of students with special needs.
  7. Visit Better Schools BC for a close look at the BCTF plan for quality public education.

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