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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fruitvale product new ambassador for Blue Jays Care Foundation

Fruitvale native Ella Matteucci led off Jays Care Foundation with a few Twitter tips on staying fit

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Fact: B.C. bats don’t carry or spread COVID

BC Annual Bat Count goes this summer, citizens encouraged to take part

Mountain Pineapple defers application for new cannabis store in Rossland

The application was originally going to be reviewed by city council on May 19

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read