Many School Districts in the province, including Quesnel, have been forced to use people without a teaching certificate to provide classroom instruction.
Lisa Kishkan, the President of the Quesnel District Teachers Association, says there are 9 or 10 examples of this in her membership.
She says one of the big reasons for the shortage goes back to 2002 when the language around class size and composition was stripped from their collective agreement…
“It resulted in a massive reduction in the number of teaching positions, so for the next 16 years we had a surplus of teachers. We saw people leave the profession and as a result of the surplus of teachers, universities reduced the number of spaces they were offering to teacher candidates, so that has continued up until this year.”
Kishkan says when the language was suddenly returned last November there weren’t enough certified teachers to fill those positions, so now they’re playing catch-up.
She says another stumbling block is their starting wage…
“When you look at the starting wage of teachers in BC it is abysmal compared to the starting wage of an equivalent level of education. It’s tens of thousands of dollars lower than many of those professions and we are about 30 percent lower than other provinces, so when we’re trying to recruit teachers from other places in Canada, it’s not worth it for them to move here because we’re not comparable, we’re among the lowest paid teachers in Canada.”
Kishkan says it will likely take anywhere from two to five years to fill all of the positions.
For now, she says it is not an ideal situation as it is important that people who work with children are certified to work with children.
Kishkan says those working without a certificate must apply for a special letter of permission from the teacher regulation branch.
That is valid for one year and they then have to apply again the following year.
She says hiring preference goes to those who are certified.