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LNG facilities in B.C.:The cleanest in the world

October 20, 2014

B.C. to have world’s cleanest LNG facilities

 

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Last year, Today’s BC Liberals made a promise to British Columbians: to seize B.C.’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop our reserves of natural gas, which would create thousands of new jobs, pay off our provincial debt, and make a huge contribution to reducing global carbon emissions.

Delivering on that commitment, Environment Minister Mary Polak today introduced legislation that ensures British Columbia will have the cleanest liquefied natural gas facilities in the world.

“There is no point in establishing an LNG industry in B.C. if we can’t protect the environment – we want to enable safe development with great environmental standards. We have a proud heritage of developing the oil and gas industry in this province to world-leading standards. This pride and commitment to the environment guides us as we take this next, big step with LNG.”

– Environment Minister Mary Polak

The centrepiece of the plan is a greenhouse gas emissions intensity benchmark that is lower than any other LNG facility in the world. As well, companies will have flexible options to reach this world-leading benchmark, including purchasing offsets and contributing to a technology fund.

The export of B.C. LNG is both an economic and an environmental opportunity for the province. By exporting natural gas, B.C. will supply fast growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region with the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, thereby reducing their emissions, and improving their air and water quality.

As promised, 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, and pay down the provincial debt, while working to put BC businesses and workers first in line for new LNG opportunities.

British Columbia has given the liquefied natural gas industry clear direction on the Province’s environmental expectations – the cleanest LNG facilities in the world and nothing less. With a competitive tax system, strong workforce planning and coordinated transportation infrastructure development, the cleanest LNG facilities in the world will remain an attractive investment, generating benefits for investors and British Columbians alike for many decades to come.

Read more about LNG in BC here.

In case you missed it, here’s the Top 5 Things We Learned About LNG in BC.

October 15, 2014

2014 B.C. India Trade Mission

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“Trade missions allow us to make connections that open doors to long-term trade and investment and create opportunities for research and student exchanges. As we continue to make inroads into the Asia Pacific market, we are seeing these partnerships create more economic opportunities – and more jobs at home.”
– Premier Christy Clark

In 2013, Today’s BC Liberals made a promise to British Columbians: to deliver a strong economy and a secure tomorrow for this province.

As promised, increased trade with Asia-Pacific markets is already creating new opportunities for British Columbians. Our exports of lumber, minerals, agri-foods and other BC-made products have grown dramatically in the last few years, reducing our reliance on traditional markets like the United States. Every new dollar of goods sold overseas means more good jobs here in British Columbia.

That’s why Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk are in India leading a delegation of over 70 companies and post-secondary institutions to reinforce B.C.’s economic and cultural ties with India, while promoting further investment in B.C. and expanding exports as part of the BC Jobs Plan.

Throughout the trade mission, Clark and Virk will promote the strength of key B.C. sectors, including liquefied natural gas and other natural resources, clean technology, life sciences, film, digital arts and finance.

Trade missions are a critical part of securing new investment, and propelling economic activity and job creation throughout the province. The last three major Premier-led missions to Asian markets resulted in business deals and partnership agreements valued at over $1.8 billion.

You can follow Premier Christy Clark and Minister Amrik Virk in India using #TM14 on Twitter.

September 19, 2014

BCTF Members Ratify Agreement

“I want to thank and congratulate B.C. teachers for voting in favour of the agreement reached earlier this week between the BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams. We have one of the best public education systems in the world, and that’s in large part because we have such great teachers. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and to support their achievements.”

- Education Minister Peter Fassbender

BCTF teachers have voted 86 per cent in favour of ratifying the agreement reached earlier this week. This is a historic deal that will bring years of labour peace.

All British Columbians deserve our thanks and appreciation for their patience through these difficult months. Both sides needed time to reach a negotiated, six-year agreement – the longest term ever reached with teachers. We want to work with teachers to build a better relationship and long term labour stability. This negotiated agreement is an important stepping stone towards a better relationship.

Here’s a breakdown of the agreement:

Breaking it Down For You

By BC Liberal Party

 

A look at the negotiated settlement and what it means for students, teachers and parents.

  • Wage increase

    By BC Liberal Party

    Teachers will get a 7.25 per cent wage increase over the six-year term.

  • Learning Improvement Fund

    By BC Liberal Party

    An additional $125 million over the next five years will go to the Learning Improvement Fund, bringing the total up to $500 million to address class composition issues.

  • More teachers and skills

    By BC Liberal Party

    Of this $500 million, $400 million will be used to hire more teachers and teachers with specific skills.

  • More education assistants

    By BC Liberal Party

    The Learning Improvement Fund now commits $100 million to hire more educational assistants or increase their hours over the course of the next five years.

  • Grievances

    By BC Liberal Party

    The government is also providing a $105 million one-time payment to resolve any potential retroactive grievances from the court case.

  • Class size and composition

    By BC Liberal Party

    We also came to mutually agreeable process to deal with issue of class composition and class size should the courts reinstate any of the old contract language.

  • Overview

    By BC Liberal Party

    The agreement gives educators the opportunity to consider the unique needs of every classroom, and then make decisions on how to address workload issues and the learning needs of students.

We know you still have questions about the settlement, so we’ve taken your most frequently asked questions and answered them here.

1) Why didn’t you get this deal done in the summer? Why did it take so long?

The length of time it may take to reach a negotiated agreement depends on the parties. We continued the bargaining process throughout the summer with the BCTF. However, negotiations took longer than expected because the BCTF did not come into the affordability zone until this week. Up until then, the BCTF was still demanding nearly double the wage and benefits that other public sector unions had agreed to. In the end, the collective bargaining process worked. We now have a historic agreement that is fair for teachers and for all B.C. taxpayers.

2) When will parents who signed up for Temporary Education Support receive their 40$ a day?

Parents who applied for Temporary Education Support will be reimbursed for 13 days of classes missed. Cheques will arrive by the end of October.

3) How many new teachers will be hired in my school district and will there be smaller classes sizes as a result?

Teacher staffing created through the Education fund is set at $75 million this year rising to $85 million in the last year. This allows districts to support hundreds of new teaching positions over the life of the agreement. There are no specific targets for the number of positions – that will vary based the size of the district and its unique needs. The main purpose is to have a flexible approach to dealing with teacher working conditions and student learning conditions.

4) How will schools get back on track to ensure the school year is completed?

We’re working with school districts to ensure the school year proceeds under its normal schedule. Right now, there is no plan to extend the normal school day or to add instructional days to current school year calendars. Educators are confident that schools can meet all curriculum and learning outcomes within the remaining school calendar timeframe.

For schools that operate on a semester basis, school districts can extend the end of the first semester by five to seven days and shorten the second semester by a similar amount to balance the school year. This will help balance out the impact of the lost days across the two semesters.

The Ministry of Education will provides a second set of provincial exam dates in the last week of January or first week of February to accommodate these adjustments.

5) What is government doing to repair relationship with the BCTF?

The first step to improve our relationship with the BCTF was to reach a negotiated agreement – and we did just that. This long-term agreement with the BCTF will provide labour peace in our education system for years to come. Now, we are moving forward to look at new opportunities to work with the BCTF so we can foster our relationship and work together to best support B.C. students.

6) When will schools in my district open?

The Ministry is working with districts to ensure students and teachers get back into classrooms as soon as possible. Most school districts expect to welcome students back to school on Monday. Parents are strongly encouraged to confirm school opening dates and times on their local school district website.

7) Government wanted a 10-year deal but only got six years. Is that considered unsuccessful?

We believe this agreement is an important step towards a better relationship and long-term stability. Negotiations are about compromise. This historic agreement with teachers is the longest in the history of the BCTF. We now have five years where we can build a better relationship, strengthen our world-class education system, and look work towards a longer-term agreement the next time around.

8) Has this strike tarnished B.C.’s brand to international students?

We are very proud of our world-class education system in B.C. and the strong reputation we have built throughout Canada and around the world. Each year thousands of students come to our province to study, contributing to our local economies and sharing their unique cultures with many of our diverse communities. While disruption was unfortunate for all involved, we do not believe it will result in any long term harm. In fact, the agreement brings stability and improvements to our classrooms, ensuring B.C. will remain a leading jurisdiction for international students for years to come.

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.