BCTF Ratifies Agreement With The Province On Class Size And Composition

Victoria -MARCH 10 UPDATE – Friday night, the BCTF ratified the deal. 98.4% said yes. Here is the BCTF release:

With 21,156 BC Teachers’ Federation members participating, 98.4% voted in favour of ratifying the agreement to implement their restored collective agreement language. The agreement will see all the 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.

I want to thank all of our BCTF members for their tenacity and solidarity over the last 15 years. 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.”

Hansman said the focus will now shift to the collective agreement-based school staffing processes that will begin later this month as well as holding the government accountable for its commitment to fully fund all the costs.

“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.”

Here is the response from the Province:

Education Minister Mike Bernier has released the following statement:

“I am very pleased that teachers have ratified the agreement because working together for student achievement is at the core of ensuring British Columbians can benefit from a strong, growing and diverse economy. The parties had to deal with some very complex issues.  The challenge was how to restore nearly 1,400 old clauses across 60 different collective agreements within the context of an education system that evolved dramatically over the past 15 years.

“We have a system today that has far more choice and flexibility for students and parents.  There is more diversity in programs and courses.  We have a system that is more inclusive of individual student needs.  Student outcomes are up across the board and are amongst the best in the world.  And we’ve seen dramatically improved outcomes for students with special needs and First Nations students.

“So a key objective was to protect equitable access to learning and build on the significant gains that students have enjoyed.  The parties agreed to make the old language work to the extent we can and to continue the dialogue until the next round of bargaining where we can pursue longer-term solutions.

“Teachers will see reduced workloads and will be welcoming thousands of new colleagues into the system over the coming months.  And students will benefit from knowing that they have access to the same learning opportunities as before.

“I want to thank the parties for the significant effort and professionalism that was brought to the table.  I hope we can build on this constructive approach. Government and the BCTF are working collaboratively on files, such as the new curriculum and Aboriginal education. If we continue in a spirit of collaboration, I am confident we can deliver even better results for our students in the years ahead.”

Learn More:

Education system snapshot: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/education-by-the-numbers

Education funding: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-education-funding-sets-a-new-record

B.C.’s new curriculum: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

MARCH 4 ORIGINAL STORY – Representatives of the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the Public Sector Employers’ Council Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education have reached a tentative Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) negotiated pursuant to Letter of Understanding (LoU) No. 17 to the 2013-2019 BCPSEA-BCTF Provincial Collective Agreement.

On Nov. 10, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision regarding the deletion of certain BCPSEA–BCTF Provincial Collective Agreement provisions by the Education Improvement Act. The Court’s decision restored the deleted provisions, which triggered the negotiation process under LoU No. 17, which states:

“If the final judgment affects the content of the collective agreement by fully or partially restoring the 2002 language, the parties will reopen the collective agreement on this issue and the parties will bargain from the restored language. The Education Fund provisions will continue in effect until there is agreement regarding implementation and/or changes to the restored language.”

Given the Court’s restoration of nearly 1,400 clauses across 60 collective agreements, it was important for the parties to determine how to implement the restored language within the context of an education system that had evolved over the past 15 years. The tentative MoA provides clarity related to class size and composition, non-enrolling staff and process language that are now restored.

LoU No.17 negotiations began on Nov. 30, 2016 and spanned across 27 bargaining sessions.  The BCTF will put the MOA forward for ratification by its members over the coming week. Details of the MOA will be available once the BCTF ratification process is complete.

Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –

“This is great news for students, parents, and teachers. If ratified, the agreement means thousands more teachers, more resources and more classroom supports. If ratified, it will build on the $100 million for up to 1,100 new teachers announced in January’s interim agreement with the BCTF and the record funding increase we just announced in the budget.

“I want to congratulate the parties and thank them for the significant effort and professionalism that was brought to the table. The parties had to deal with some very complex issues, it involved a lot of work, and everyone remained focused on problem-solving. We hope to build on this constructive approach and relationship in the years ahead.

“Student outcomes have improved dramatically over the past 15 years and are among the best in the world. We already have a word-leading education system. With this agreement, we can expect even greater results for our students in the years ahead.”

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