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Education UpdateA Message from Christy Clark

September 17, 2014

Education Update: A Message from Premier Christy Clark

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Dear British Columbians,

Early this morning, I received the best possible news: a tentative agreement with the BCTF.

By working together, we found a way to improve class composition, give teachers a fair wage increase, and for the first time ever, a six-year agreement to bring stability to B.C.’s world-leading education system – all without cutting services, going into deficit, or raising your taxes.

The agreement still needs to be ratified, but in the meantime, I’m writing to say thank you to a number of people who made it happen – most importantly, you.

I want to thank both bargaining teams for their tireless efforts and sleepless nights at the negotiating table.

I want to thank leaders on both sides, including Jim Iker of the BCTF, and Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

But most of all, I want to thank you, and every British Columbian, for your patience.

This was crucial. It gave negotiators the time and space they needed to reach this tentative agreement the right way – discussion, not confrontation.

Hopefully, the agreement will be ratified shortly, and we can all put our focus where it should be: one of the best public education systems in the world, preparing students for increasing opportunities in a healthy, growing economy.

– Christy

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Hon. Christy Clark, MLA
Premier of British Columbia
Leader of Today’s BC Liberals

September 4, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions


Answering Your Questions

By BC Liberal Party

About the BC Teachers’ Strike

  • Why didn’t you bargain all summer?

    By BC Liberal Party

    We were prepared to bargain all summer, in fact, we started bargaining in earlier this year. But it takes two to tango.

  • Why are you appealing the court case?

    By BC Liberal Party

    Government has a responsibility to balance the interests of BCTF against what is in the best interest of students.‎ Government is elected to make fiscal and policy decisions – not the BCTF.

  • What is E80?

    By BC Liberal Party

    E80 is our proposal to bargain the issues of class size and composition now as Justice Griffin suggested the two parties do. We believe class composition is the most important issue.

  • What about class sizes?

    By BC Liberal Party

    The BCTF wants to go back to rigid ratios and formulas. No other province in Canada manages its classrooms this way.

  • How much do teachers currently earn?

    By BC Liberal Party

    The average starting compensation for a newly hired teacher in British Columbia is over $60K (roughly $49K in salary). An experienced teacher is compensated up to $99K (roughly $80K in salary).

  • What has the government offered to teachers?

    By BC Liberal Party

    The most recent offer to the BCTF was a 7% wage increase over a six-year term to provide stability for the education system plus $35m for more classroom resources.

  • What are the sticking points with the BCTF offer?

    By BC Liberal Party

    The BCTF’s compensation demands remain double what 150,000 other BC public-sector workers have recently settled for, including a demand for a  $5K signing bonus that no one else received.

  • Why won’t you just legislate now?

    By BC Liberal Party

    We do not believe that it is in the best interest of students, parents or teachers to continue on the same dysfunctional treadmill that we have been on.

  • Where is the money coming from for the $40 a day?

    By BC Liberal Party

    These funds come from the amount of money that is not spent by government to run the school system while the BCTF are on strike.

1. Why didn’t you bargain all summer?

We were prepared to bargain all summer, in fact, we started bargaining in earlier this year. But it takes two to tango.

The BCTF has steadfastly refused to bring their demands into the affordability zone. They are still asking for twice as much as other public sector workers have settled for, including a demand for a $5,000 signing bonus.

When veteran mediator Vince Ready met with both sides this past weekend, he concluded that wages were one of the big stumbling blocks.

2. Why are you appealing the court case? Why not just negotiate class composition now?

Despite what you may have heard, we want to deal with class composition now. It’s an important issue, which is why we tabled a proposal to provide more resources in the classroom. Read more about that proposal, “E80”, below.

We are appealing the court case because government has a responsibility to balance the interests of BCTF members against what is in the best interest of students and families. Simply put, we do not believe that the BCTF should make fiscal and policy decisions for the government.

The BCTF wants to return to a factory model where students are managed through rigid ratios and arbitrary formulas. No other province manages their classrooms this way. And for good reason: it is inefficient, ineffective, and highly discriminatory against students with special needs. It also takes away the ability of boards of education and principals to make appropriate decisions to match resources to meet the needs of students.

3. What is E80?

E80 is our proposal to bargain the issues of class size and composition now as Justice Griffin suggested the two parties do.

We believe class composition is the most important issue. We want to do everything we can to ensure students have the support they need: resources, educators and education assistants. So we’ve set aside $375 million over five years for this purpose.

The BCTF says they want to bargain class size and composition but when we try to do exactly that, BCTF refuses. Unfortunately, from their perspective, this is about which union benefits from the additional resources, the BCTF or CUPE (CUPE represents educational assistants). It should be about nothing other than what’s best for students.

4. What about class sizes?

The BC government publishes a fact sheet of information on class sizes in British Columbia. It says:

Compared to other high-performing jurisdictions, British Columbia does not have large classes. This year’s (2013-14) average class sizes are near historical lows of:

19.3 students for kindergarten.

21.5 for grades 1 to 3.

25.7 for grades 4 to 7.

23.0 for grades 8 to 12.

The BCTF wants to go back to rigid ratios and formulas. No other province in Canada manages its classrooms this way because it is inefficient, ineffective, and highly discriminatory against students with special needs.

5. How much do teachers currently earn?

The average starting compensation (salary & benefits) for a newly hired teacher in British Columbia is over $60,000 (roughly $49,000 in salary). An experienced teacher is compensated up to $99,000 (roughly $80,000 in salary).

6. What has the government offered to teachers?

The most recent offer to the BCTF was a 7% wage increase over a six-year term to provide stability for the education system and a guarantee of at least $375 million over five years to address complex classroom needs like hiring more teachers and education assistants.

We’ve also said that if we exceed our fiscal targets and GDP estimates (i.e. growing the economy faster than predicted), teachers, like all other unionized workers who have signed contracts, can earn up to another 0.5% wage increase over and above their contract. It’s our way of sharing the benefits of a growing economy with our public sector employees.

7. What are the sticking points with the BCTF counter offer?

Veteran mediator Vince Ready was brought in recently to explore the possibility of mediation and he concluded that wages remain one of the big stumbling blocks.

The BCTF’s compensation demands remain double what 150,000 other B.C. public-sector workers have recently settled for, including a demand for a special $5,000 signing bonus that no one else received.

8. Why won’t you just legislate now?

We do not believe that it is in the best interest of students, parents or teachers to continue on the same dysfunctional treadmill that we have been on.

According to University of Victoria Professor Tom Fleming, there have been more 50 strikes and three lockouts since April, 1987 (Source: Canadian Press, 01/09/2014).

Legislation would only serve to shelve the same problem temporarily.

That is why we want to come to a negotiated agreement with the BCTF – an agreement that works for both sides. We have to stand firm on behalf of the long-term public interest, and on behalf of all British Columbians.

9. Where is the money coming from for the $40 a day program?

Parents with students 12 years old or under attending B.C. public schools may be eligible to receive a payment of $40 per day, per child, to help ease the impact if public schools are closed in September due to the labour disruption.

These funds come from the amount of money that is not spent by government to run the school system while the BCTF are on strike. Learn more at http://www.bcparentinfo.ca

September 2, 2014

Education Update: A Message from Peter Fassbender

Minister Peter Fassbender reads to children (Credit: Facebook)

Minister Peter Fassbender reads to children (Credit: Facebook)

I’m writing you this evening because I know we’re all unhappy about the teachers’ union’s strike — all of us, students, parents, and teachers. I have grandchildren caught in the middle of this dispute. I understand the challenges this will cause families. This is not where any of us want to be.

From the very start of these negotiations, my goal has been to negotiate an affordable agreement – one that is fair for teachers and taxpayers.
My only motivation is to make sure we get to a settlement so that schools can open, teachers can teach, and students can learn.

This week I called the head of the BCTF, Jim Iker, and the lead negotiator for school districts, Peter Cameron, to my office. I mapped out a path to settlement: set aside the grievances associated with the ongoing court case. That’s before the court so let the courts decide. Focus instead on the issues we can agree on like wages, benefits and putting more educators into classrooms for students.

Unfortunately, the BCTF has stubbornly refused every move we’ve made at the table. Most disappointing, they also refused to allow teachers a chance to vote on going back to work while an agreement is mediated.
We believe teachers deserve an affordable raise – just like 150,000 other public servants who have reached agreements without going on strike. But the BCTF continues to demand nearly twice as much as everyone else. They even want a $5,000 signing bonus – something no other public servant has received. With finite resources, higher wages and expensive benefits for BCTF members means fewer resources for students – plain and simple.
This weekend provides further proof that the BCTF has no intention of reaching an agreement. Instead, they want to pressure government into legislating them back to work. They would prefer to keep kids on this broken treadmill we’ve been on for 30 years. Instead of negotiating a fair deal and selling it to their members, the BCTF keeps demanding more money and benefits not offered to other public sector workers. This is unfair to members of other unions, and more importantly, it means fewer resources available to hire more educators for students.

We have to stand firm — on behalf of the long-term public interest, and on behalf of all British Columbians.

We need a negotiated deal that works for both sides. That’s why our offer includes an affordable wage increase and at least $375 million over five years to address complex classroom needs. We want to focus what funds we have on adding more educators to classrooms to help students learn.
It would be irresponsible to legislate teachers back to work; we would be shelving the same problem for a few short years. The cycle of strike and legislated contract has to end.
British Columbians have asked us to balance the budget and keep taxes affordable. That’s a promise we must keep. We will not make cuts to other services people depend on to pay for raises for the BCTF.

We remain committed to negotiating a deal, including reasonable moves on our offer. We will continue to be ready to negotiate should the BCTF decide they’re ready to bargain.

In the interim, we will do everything we can to support parents through this labour disruption. Every parent of a public school student under 13 will be eligible for 40 dollars a day per child for the duration of this strike. If you need it, here’s where you can find more information: http://bcparentinfo.ca/

As hard as it is, we have to stand firm until the union is ready to move off their unaffordable demands. Let’s get our students back in school. Let’s get a fair and negotiated settlement at the table without disrupting BC schools and families.
Sincerely,
Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education
MLA, Surrey-Fleetwood

August 26, 2014

Help for Families

A Teachers’ Strike is the last thing anyone wants. It is a massive disruption to students, teachers, and families with effects felt throughout the province. What we do want to see is teachers and students back in their classrooms this September. Our passion for finding this solution is the reason we are focused on negotiating an agreement that will not only work today, but one that will work for years to come. Classrooms throughout British Columbia are recognized for having some of the best outcomes in the world, and we intend to keep it that way.

Learn more about how BC Schools are leading the way on a Canada-wide level as well as throughout OECD countries.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy task. While we want to reach a labour agreement as soon as possible, we recognize that if one is not reached job action may continue into September. Should this happen, families throughout our province will immediately feel the effects. This is why we’ve set up a contingency plan.

The Temporary Education Support for Parents will provide some financial relief to parents in the event of a continued strike. Families can apply for this at BCParentInfo.ca, but remember, this is not mandatory. We know that not all families are in need, but we also know that for some, this temporary relief will be a huge help in easing the financial burden that comes with securing additional child care. Families that are not in need and would rather the money stay in the education system can leave their payment unclaimed. By alleviating some of the stress some families will experience, we are able to continue fighting for the future of your children’s education.

Additionally, BCParentInfo.ca provides families with up-to-date information on the status of the strike as well as access to further resources surrounding extended job action. Online learning resources for parents are included to help families keep their children engaged in age-appropriate learning activities while schools remain behind picket lines. Remember parents, this resource is for you. Share it amongst your fellow parents to ensure that no one is left in the dark.

Finding a deal and getting students and teachers back to school for September is this government’s top priority, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared. It is very important that we mitigate the effect this has on our children and our families. Please visit BCParentInfo.ca to learn about the strike, apply for Temporary Education Support for Parents, and stay updated. We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon.

July 2, 2014

Vancouver Leader’s Dinner

This year’s Vancouver Leader’s Dinner not only saw the biggest turnout ever but also a speech that reassured the room of our commitment to building a better British Columbia.

June 3, 2014

Spring Session: Delivering for BC

 

A full Session Ender document from the BC Liberal Government Caucus is available here: http://governmentcaucus.bc.ca/

 

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On Thursday, May 29th, the Legislative Assembly reached the end of the 2nd session of the 40th parliament. Here are some examples of how Premier Christy Clark and your BC Liberal team are keeping their promises to control spending, ope new markets, attract new investments, improve on B.C.’s safety and social infrastructure, and modernize B.C.’s laws to serve you better.

“We can be proud of our work, but we need to keep it up. We’ve seen
how momentum can shift. Everything we do to grow the economy,
control the size of government, and create more opportunity makes
a difference today, but also for generations to come.

“If we keep up the momentum, we can keep making history.”

-Premier Christy Clark

BALANCED BUDGET 2014

Your government delivered a second balanced budget in a row, keeping taxes low and controlling public spending. And this sound fiscal management recently resulted in reaffirmation of BC’s AAA credit rating.

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CORE REVIEW SAVINGS FOR TAXPAYERS

Led by Minister Bill Bennett, the Core Review process continues to find ways to save you money and focus on the services that matter most.

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SKILLS FOR JOBS BLUEPRINT

This 10-year plan to re-engineer BC’s education and training system will ensure that the next generation of workers is trained and ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

 

DELIVERING ON BC’S LNG OPPORTUNITY

British Columbia is on track to compete and win in the global race to meet the energy needs of Asia-Pacific economies. With numerous projects in the planning and land acquisition stages, we’ll be able to create 100,000 good jobs, pay down the provincial debt, and make a huge contribution to reducing global carbon emissions. Your government is also working to put BC business and workers first in line for new LNG opportunities.

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CANADA JOB GRANT AGREEMENT

The governments of BC and Canada are working together productively to make sure BC workers are first in line for BC jobs, and that growing businesses have their labour needs met.

 

JOBS & TRADE MISSIONS TO ASIA

Premier Christy Clark and her team are energetically promoting BC to our growing trading partners in the Asia-Pacific — creating new export opportunities for our forestry, mining,agri-foods and technology sectors, and more.

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MODERNIZING BC LIQUOR LAWS

Bringing BC’s antiquated liquor laws into the 21st century isn’t just good for business — it means new opportunities for communities and non-profit organizations across the province.

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OFFICIAL APOLOGY TO CHINESE-CANADIANS

An important theme of the past session has been recognizing historical wrongs, and committing to correct them as best we can.

 

100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE KOMAGATA MARU INCIDENT

MLAs from all parties came together to mark the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru tragedy.

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SUPPORTING FARMERS & RANCHERS THROUGH ALR REFORM

Protecting BC’s agricultural heritage by helping farmers and ranchers make a living and stay on their land — that’s the goal of ALR reforms passed during this session.

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ACHIEVING LABOUR PEACE AT PORT METRO VANCOUVER

When it mattered most, Premier Christy Clark and her team stepped in to help reach a deal between Canada’s largest port and striking truck drivers — allowing our Pacific gateway to reopen for business.

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FAIR DEALS WITH PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS

By offering a fair increase tied to economic growth, Minister Mike de Jong and your government have negotiated agreements with huge parts of the public service under the Economic Stability Mandate.

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SUPPORTING NATURAL RESOURCE INDUSTRIES

New amendments to existing laws will help natural resource companies create jobs while protecting our environment.

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NEW PARTNERSHIPS WITH FIRST NATIONS

Resource revenue sharing agreements with BC Aboriginal groups are creating certainty, cooperation and opportunity in communities across BC.

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NEW WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACT

This new legislation to protect BC’s water has been applauded by conservation groups. It will facilitate responsible use of this precious resource, protecting supply and quality for future generations.

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PROTECTING ANIMAL HEALTH

Updates to the Animal Health Act will be good for animals, agriculture, and consumers, too.

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June 2, 2014

Lighting a Spark in Fort St. John

Our director of engagement, Pamela Martin, was recently in Fort St. John to speak at the 2014 Spark Women’s Conference — an opportunity for local women professionals to network, learn and be inspired. Pamela was joined by BC Liberal Women’s Network president Janet Smukowich for a great day of engaging with the women who help make the Peace region and BC strong.

Here are a few photos from the Women’s Network luncheon that day in Fort St. John. A special thank-you to organizer Shaely Endicott for her great work!

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FSJ Spark 2014

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