Students head into a portable classroom in Chilliwack. Some urban centres are seeing rising enrolment. (Jenna Hauck/Black Press)

B.C. government sets goals as kids head back to school in September

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has blamed a shortage of teachers and specialists for causing disruptions in the last school year.

British Columbia’s education minister said the province’s schools have had a $580 million funding boost that has enabled the government to hire up to 3,700 new teachers and a number of educational assistants.

Rob Fleming said Thursday 600,000 students will return to class in September with record levels of funding, smaller class sizes, more teachers and support staff.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2016 forced the provincial government to restore staffing to 2002 levels after it ruled a former Liberal government improperly took away the union’s right to bargain class size and the composition of those classes.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has blamed a shortage of teachers and specialists for causing disruptions in the last school year.

Related: Teachers’ union files grievance over public school educator shortage in B.C.

Related: B.C. schools brace for more students, teachers

Federation president Glen Hansman said the increase in teachers or funding isn’t something Fleming or the new NDP government has done.

“It’s something that the court ordered because of teachers’ persistence through the court,” he said. “Beyond what the court ordered there hasn’t been any new additional funding on the operational side from the province.”

Fleming said the province is having difficulty recruiting French immersion teachers and school districts in the Lower Mainland have had to curtail the planned expansion of French programs. Some districts in rural areas have also had trouble hiring secondary school math and science teachers, he said, because moving to those areas is a “bigger life decision.”

Hansman said it is also difficult to find teachers for Vancouver because of how expensive it is to live in the city.

In a letter to Fleming earlier this year the federation recommended that the minister establish a provincewide recruitment and retention fund, and assist in student loan payments, among other things.

Fleming said the problem has been left for so long that it is taking a lot of care and attention to fix.

Hansman said the federation wants the province to be “more proactive,” and he gave the former B.C. Liberal government credit for putting $2 million into a fund to help rural and remote school districts offer moving allowances to help attract teachers from other provinces.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Good wood; Radium lumbers to top prize

Wood WORKS! BC gives honour to Radium at UBCM

Unsanitary change room conditions exposed at Radium’s hot springs pools

Health inspector felt nothing of concern posed a “serious physical or health risk”

Brewer Creek: a fall classic

Summit Trail Makers Society

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read