B.C. on collision course with teachers

BCTF president Susan Lambert is flanked by teacher local representatives from all 60 school districts at the union's convention in Victoria Monday.

BCTF president Susan Lambert is flanked by teacher local representatives from all 60 school districts at the union's convention in Victoria Monday.

The only negotiated contract the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has ever signed is running out June 30, and prospects for a new one are growing dimmer.

At a news conference at the union’s annual convention in Victoria on Monday, BCTF president Susan Lambert refused to specify how large a salary increase the executive will propose as negotiations get underway. But she said B.C. teachers have fallen from third highest-paid in Canada to eighth since 2006.

“For example, a beginning teacher working in Golden right now, right on the B.C.-Alberta border, makes almost $10,000 a year less than a beginning teacher in Banff,” Lambert said. “At the top of the scale it’s even worse. An experienced teacher in Banff earns more than $16,000 a year more than a teacher with the same credentials in Golden.”

Lambert called on the B.C. government to change the “net zero” compensation mandate imposed two years ago when the province was hit by a global recession.

Education Minister George Abbott said Monday the net zero mandate applies to the BCTF as well as other unions. The restriction that wage increases can only be approved if they are offset by other savings has produced agreements with about two thirds of provincial employees so far, he said.

“I appreciate that will perhaps make discussions with the teachers’ federation a challenging one, but I think there are a great many issues that we can discuss in relation to both the student performance within the B.C. education system and the teacher satisfaction within the B.C. education system,” Abbott said.

The BCTF signed its current five-year deal when the provincial government was in surplus and offering signing bonuses to all the government unions. Teachers got signing bonuses of $3,700 with another $1,000 each for a settlement longer than three years, as well as pay and benefits increases totalling 16 per cent over five years.

It was the only time since the BCTF was turned into a union by the Social Credit government in the 1980s that a contract was negotiated rather than imposed by legislation, usually after a strike in public schools.

Lambert said a recent survey of teachers shows that class size and special needs support, not money, is the top issue for teachers. The BCTF is awaiting a ruling from the B.C. Supreme Court this spring on its challenge to legislation that removed class size and support staff levels from the teacher contract.

In addition to the legal action, the union still has “tens of thousands” of grievances in process over individual class size and composition in schools across the province, Lambert said.

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read