Government, BCTF announce tentative agreement on restored collective rights

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, announced Saturday, March 4, fully restores all of the substantive collective agreement language that was unconstitutionally stripped in 2002 by then-Education Minister Christy Clark.

“This is great news for students, parents, and teachers,” Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a statement. “If ratified, the agreement means thousands more teachers, more resources and more classroom supports. If ratified, it will build on the $100 million for up to 1,100 new teachers announced in January’s interim agreement with the BCTF and the record funding increase we just announced in the budget.

“Student outcomes have improved dramatically over the past 15 years and are among the best in the world. We already have a word-leading education system. With this agreement, we can expect even greater results for our students in the years ahead.”

“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,” BCTF President Glen Hansman said in a separate statement. “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 BCTF’s executive committee has endorsed the tentative agreement and is recommending that its members ratify it. BCTF members will vote March 8–10. It remains subject to the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s process.

Hansman said that the agreement means teachers will see full restoration of their previous working conditions — smaller classes, more specialists such as counsellors, special education teachers, and learning assistance teachers, and more support for children with special needs.

For teachers, full details of the Agreement-in-Committee are posted on the Federation’s portal and BCTF members have been emailed more information.

Please click here to read our story regarding the comments by Bob Rogers, president of the Revelstoke Teachers’ Association.