Successful BCTF negotiations get the process underway

Education Minister Mike Bernier
Education Minister Mike Bernier

Education Minister Mike Bernier revealed step one in the government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision on class sizes following an agreement reached between the government and the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF). It will see the equivalent of 1,100 teachers hired, the actual number hired will be determined by school districts, local unions, and the hiring process.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Minister Bernier reiterated that the funding was fully committed and on-going and added the action ensures students benefit from enhanced learning environments now – while negotiations for a final agreement are underway.
“We have to find a way that is both practical and appropriate for the education system we have today,” said Bernier. “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.”

Funding will go to:

  • Hiring additional classroom teachers this school year, where feasible to the given current timetable, physical space and labour supply limitations.
    • Hiring additional special education teachers, speech language pathologists, behaviour intervention specialists, school psychologists, Aboriginal support teachers, counsellors including for mental health, ELL teachers, and teacher librarians.

Where additional teachers can’t be added during the current school year, the funding may be used to fund district-level capacity building opportunities such as upgrading existing teacher qualifications during the 2016-17 year, teacher recruitment programs and teacher mentoring programs.

The parties continue to meet and jointly review the old contract language as well as current district-level information on classrooms and composition. These negotiations will determine how to modernize the language so it reflects changes to classrooms that have taken place over the past 15 years.

Both sides are working collaboratively to ensure that the final agreement on the restored provisions will have a meaningful impact on student outcomes and working conditions for teachers into the future. In the meantime, the action announced by the B.C. government today is ensuring students benefit from enhanced learning environments now – while negotiations for a final agreement are underway.

The priority measures funding is in addition to the $5.1 billion invested in public education in B.C. which includes $100 million in the learning improvement fund that is already in place to help hire more teachers and education assistants.