Over 21,000 members of the BC Teachers Federation gave the green light for a new collective bargaining agreement with the province on Friday.
A whopping 98.4% of members were in favour of reinforcing substantive working conditions that were unconstitutionally stripped from teachers’ collective agreements restored.
“With this vote, BC schools are finally on the verge of having better working and learning conditions back in place,” said BCTF President Glen Hansman.
“With our restored language in effect, BC schools, students, and teachers will see significant improvements in class sizes, support levels for children with special needs, and access to specialist teachers this September. The unconstitutional stripping of our collective agreement never should have happened in the first place, and a whole generation of students have gone without the frontline service they ought to have had during the entirety of their K–12 experience, but we are proud that we’re able to turn our Supreme Court of Canada victory into positive change so quickly. We can never forget, though, what happened.”
Hansman also thanks members for their tenacious pursuit of improvements, benefitting themselves and the students of BC.
“By sticking together and acting as outspoken advocates for our rights and our students’ education, we are finally going to see meaningful improvements in our schools. Thank you as well to parents who have supported us all these years.”
He adds the focus will shift to the staffing processes that will begin later this month.
“The government stated it will fully fund the costs of implementing this agreement,” said Hansman.
“All eyes will be on the BC Liberal government this March and April to ensure the necessary funds materialize. It’s also important to note that our restored language does not solve many of the other urgent funding pressures facing school districts. The government needs to step up and properly address overcrowding in many of our districts, the lack of resources for the revised curriculum, and all of the seismically unsafe schools across the province.”
In a statement, Education Minister Mike Bernier says teachers will receive lighter workloads and he’s looking forward to adding thousands of more teachers to the system.
(Files from Brendan Pawliw with MYPRINCEGEORGENOW)