After 16 years of a government that constantly picked fights with teachers and underfunded public schools, many in BC’s education sector felt relief when the NDP government was elected. Teachers heard MLAs like Katrine Conroy congratulate us on our Supreme Court win and back us up on our fight for more funding.
Recently, as the BCTF started bargaining, we were relieved to hear government representatives say there would be no demands for concessions. This commitment was reinforced on March 17 when the Minister of Education told The Globe and Mail that “government is not seeking any concessions.”
Despite that promise, the BC Public School Employers’ Association has proposed concessions that will increase class sizes, eliminate staffing ratios for specific specialist teachers, and weaken guaranteed support levels for children with special needs.
BCPSEA wants to level down services by taking away the number of teachers in some districts and reducing services to kids in those places. Taking away services from kids is not equity, and is the opposite of what this government says it stands for and it has been doing in other sectors like health and child care. BCPSEA should be working with us to identify and address gaps in services across the 60 school districts to improve services for students.
If the government proceeds with BCPSEA’s proposal, over half of B.C.’s school districts will be forced to lay off hundreds of teachers and reduce supports for students. Many of those districts are represented by NDP MLAs. BCPSEA’s rationale for these proposed concessions and cuts is the “funding envelope” for bargaining given to them by government.
Government has representatives at the provincial bargaining table and they receive their mandate and funding envelope from cabinet. We ask for funding on the table to prevent cuts and urge government’s representatives to abandon their proposed concessions.
Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union