The BCTF has reached agreement with the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the provincial government on the interim creation of more than 1,000 new teaching positions while discussions continue on full restoration of teachers’ unconstitutionally stripped-away collective agreement language.
“Since the BCTF won our court case back in November, we have been moving forward with two goals,” union President Glen Hansman said in a news statement released on Thursday, January 5. “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 said the 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.
“We have to find a way that is both practical and appropriate for the education system we have today,” Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a separate statement. “This new funding will help to kick-start the changes we all know are required following the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision. While the positive negotiations continue, we’re going to keep focused on solutions that work for kids in their classrooms.”
The two parties can now turn to the task of fully implementing all the language that was restored by the court. The two sides will meet again next week to continue discussions.
“It’s important for parents and the public to understand how our contract language made a difference for kids,” Hansman said. “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.”
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.