BCTF members, all dressed in red, lined Douglas Street to hand out leaflets, wave their signs and talk with residents and BC NDP Convention attendees on Saturday. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

B.C. Teachers’ Federation protests outside BC NDP Convention

‘Our working conditions are the kids’ learning conditions and you can’t separate that,’ teacher says

Honks from vehicles rang out through the cool morning air as they passed members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) union that had gathered outside the BC NDP Convention at the Victoria Conference Centre on Saturday morning just before 9 a.m. and then again in the afternoon.

The teachers, all dressed in red, lined Douglas Street to hand out leaflets, wave their signs and talk with residents and convention attendees.

The union members were joined by BCTF President Teri Mooring who was in town for a meeting with the representative assembly – made up of some 300 teachers – at the Empress Hotel. Mooring also addressed convention delegates with a speech at 1 p.m.

Coquitlam teacher Deither Malakoff had come over to the Island for the demonstration and to spread the word about the issues B.C. teachers are facing when it comes to the negotiations with the province and with the new funding model being proposed.

READ ALSO: John Horgan touts accomplishments at B.C. NDP convention

The prevalence model, which is used in other provinces, would provide funding for students who need extra assistance based on statistics, not on head counts the way it is now, Malakoff explained. This could mean the students with extra needs could go unnoticed and fall through the cracks due to a lack of resources.

Teachers already pay for so much out of pocket including school supplies and other resources for students, said Chris Rolls, president of the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association and a teacher of 34 years. The new funding formula is unclear and will likely leave kids and parents fighting for support, she explained.

Rolls also noted that if class size and composition are not addressed in the new teacher contract, teachers will be unable to address the individual needs of all their students due to a lack of time and resources.

The working conditions for teachers in B.C. are resulting in a teacher shortage, Rolls said. New teachers can move to Alberta and make $20,000 more per year, she explained, emphasizing the salary gap between B.C. and most other provinces. She explained that new teachers in B.C. are basically at the poverty line.

Rolls pointed out that the negotiations and the protest on Saturday aren’t just about asking for a cost of living increase, but about making things better for students.

READ ALSO: Saanich mom on a bike turned away in Tim Hortons drive-thru

“Our working conditions are the kids’ learning conditions and you can’t separate that.”

The BCTF thought that the BC NDP recognized the importance of teachers in a way that the former BC Liberal government didn’t, Rolls said, but teachers are becoming disheartened.

Premier John Horgan acknowledged the protestors’ presence outside after making his keynote speech at the convention. He emphasized that class size and composition issues are “critically important to teachers [and] critically important to outcomes for kids” and that the province supports that.

“We believe in free and fair collective bargaining,” Horgan said. “We’re hopeful we can get a good agreement.”

There were several other protest groups outside the convention hall including the South Island Community Overdose Response Network and members of various environmental advocacy groups.

With files from Tom Fletcher.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Design work for seismic upgrade of John Hart Dam continues

BC Hydro’s planned seismic upgrades to the John Hart Dam are targeted… Continue reading

Residents escape fire in Campbell River mobile home

CR Firefighters respond to mobile home fire this morning. No injuries reported.… Continue reading

Where’s the line between furniture and art?

Local timber framer Chris Zumkeller makes foray into the world of fine art with wood creations

Future of Campbell River Sportsplex will go to public consultation

‘We have buckets on the floor to catch the leaks in the roof. That’s unpalatable to me’

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low rain across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

Most Read