B.C. Teachers’ Federation, Ministry of Education come to tentative agreement

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VICTORIA, B.C. – Representatives of the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the Public Sector Employers’ Council Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education have reached a tentative Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

Back on November 10, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the deletion of certain BCPSEA-BCTF Provincial Collective Agreement provisions by the Education Improvement Act. The court ruled that the deleted provisions would be restored. The result of the ruling also saw negotiations begin between the BCTF and the Ministry of Education.

The court restored close to 1,400 clauses across 60 collective agreements. The tentative MoA provides clarity related to class size and composition, non-enrolling staff and process language that will now be restored.

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The Ministry of Education says LoU No.17 negotiations began on Nov. 30, 2016 and spanned across 27 bargaining sessions.

Education Minister Mike Bernier says he is glad the tentative agreement has been reached and congratulated the parties involved on working together to reach the agreement.

“This is great news for students, parents, and teachers. If ratified, the agreement means thousands more teachers, more resources and more classroom supports. If ratified, it will build on the $100 million for up to 1,100 new teachers announced in January’s interim agreement with the BCTF and the record funding increase we just announced in the budget.

“I want to congratulate the parties and thank them for the significant effort and professionalism that was brought to the table. The parties had to deal with some very complex issues, it involved a lot of work, and everyone remained focused on problem-solving. We hope to build on this constructive approach and relationship in the years ahead.

“Student outcomes have improved dramatically over the past 15 years and are among the best in the world. We already have a word-leading education system. With this agreement, we can expect even greater results for our students in the years ahead.”

The tentative agreement must be ratified by the BCTF. It will require a province-wide vote of BCTF members, as well as the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s process. The BCTF says members will vote March 8–10, 2017.

The BCTF also released a statement on Saturday, saying they support the tentative agreement. BCTF President Glen Hansman says this will bring many rights back to the teachers.

“The BCTF Executive Committee has endorsed the tentative agreement and is recommending ratification to our members,” said Hansman. In January, the government agreed to fund 1,100 new full-time teaching positions for the current school year. Many of those positions are now filled and those teachers are already supporting students.

“Now, which this tentative agreement achieves, teachers will see full restoration of our working conditions. If ratified, schools right across BC will see smaller classes, more specialists like counsellors, special education teachers, and learning assistance teachers, and more support for children with special needs.”

Details of the MOA are expected to be available after the deal is ratified by the BCTF.

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