A tentative deal has been reached between the B.C. Teacher’s Federation and provincial government on the restoration of class size and composition.
“The deal includes the restoration of all of the class size and class composition provisions that were unconstitutionally legislated away back in 2002,” says B.C. Teachers Federation President Glen Hansman.
LISTEN: BCTF President Glen Hansman joins CKNW Weekend host Tim Dickert to break down the deal
Hansman says it covers special needs, teacher librarian, and specialist teachers, but couldn’t offer a specific figure on how many positions would be created.
“Probably a couple of thousand. Class sizes are going to change dramatically in this province. And the sort of supports that will be there for students with special needs is going to drastically improve.”
That means a massive hiring spree, with districts around the province making their staffing decisions in the next two months.
“There’s going to be lots of new and young teachers that are going to get full-time work pretty quickly. The province is going to have to be proactive in recruiting from outside of the province in order to get enough people for the roles. It’s going to be an interesting period of implementation but we’re confident it’s going to go smoothly.”
Back in January, teachers and the province agreed to a preliminary agreement which provided $50-million and was expected to cover the equivalent of about 1,100 positions.
In a statement, Education Minister Mike Bernier called the deal “great news for students, parents, and teachers.”
Asked how he squared that statement with the province’s decision to fight teachers all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, at a cost of $2.6-million, Bernier pointed to the success of negotiations.
“If nothing else, what that shows, is that we’ve sat down in good faith and we’ve put forward a great opportunity for students and one that both sides, whether it’s government or teachers can actually agree to. And again at the end of the day, what that means is great education for our students.”
Bernier wasn’t able to put a final price tag on the deal, saying that would have to wait until the agreement was signed.
However, in last month’s budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the province had put aside up to $320-million for the settlement.
The province was forced to re-negotiate ratios with teachers last year after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled it had breached their constitutional rights when it tore up contracts in 2002 under then-Education Minister Christy Clark.
The province says no legislation is required for approving the deal.
Teachers will vote on ratification next week.
With files from Michelle Morton