Education Minister Rob Fleming. (Black Press Media files)

B.C. education minister says focus is on new curriculum, filling on-call teacher ranks

School year is expected to start Sept. 3, even though teachers have yet to reach a deal

The province’s education minister says he is focusing on the new senior curriculum and filling teacher-on-call lists as the 2019/20 school year gets underway.

This year will see a new curriculum in place for Grade 11 and 12 that Education Minister Rob Fleming said will focus more on real life skills and help students get a grip on what they want to do after the graduate.

During a press conference Wednesday, Fleming said parents and teachers can expect to go back to school on Sept. 3, even as mediated talks with the B.C. Teachers Federation continue.

Fleming said he is confident a deal will be struck, citing that 70 per cent of public sector union employees have had their collective agreements signed.

He said he was “perhaps a little bit” surprised that it’s taken 61 days of negotiation, 11 of which have been mediated, to not even have reached a deal with the teachers’ union. There are three more days of mediated talks scheduled, including Wednesday, for teachers to reach a deal.

“I want to say we’re hopeful that the parties can find solutions and reach a deal,” Fleming said. “I share the BCTF’s optimism that we can get to a deal.

He did admit he was a little nonplussed about the ads the BCTF has been playing in recent days.

One ad called on the NDP to “drop their attempts to increase class sizes and eliminate guaranteed support levels for students with special needs. We can’t go backwards.”

Fleming said he was “scratching his head a little bit at that ad campaign.”

“We have respected the media blackout, that we not bargain this in public through the media,” he said.

“I could probably also quibble a little bit the tone of the ad and the accuracy.”

Fleming pointed to the 4,000 teachers and 1,000 support staff hired since the 2016 court win that restored class size and composition language to teachers’ contracts, as well as an 85 per cent spike in out-of-province applications for B.C. teaching licences and 70 applications from France and Belgium for the licences. He said teacher vacancies going into this school year are now the same as in 2015, before the court decision.

But despite the BCTF’s comments, he said it was a “vastly, vastly different” negotiating environment with the teachers’ union than had been the case in prior years and that he was feeling good about a deal being struck.

Fleming said he would be speaking to superintendents in the coming weeks about filling teacher-on-call lists, which have been decimated by recent hiring sprees in urban regions.

Fleming cited a plan brought in last year by the Vancouver school board, where they “attracted 200 new [on call teachers] by guaranteeing a substitute teacher at least four days of work a week.”

The BCTF has said that the shortage leads non-enrolling staff, like librarians and educational assistants, having to take over classrooms for the day.

READ MORE: ‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

READ MORE: Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Lawyer says substitute teacher fought sexual urges for 30 years

Former Victoria badminton coach Harry Charles Sadd to be sentenced for sexual abuse of boys

Public hearing coming for Victoria police officer accused of sexual misconduct

Police watchdog hearing follows VPD investigation into allegations

Extreme Weather Protocol kicks in as cold night forecast for Victoria

A total of 472 shelter spaces open across Greater Victoria

Oak Bay’s only candy shop closing for good on Friday

Sweet Delights Candy Store going out of business

Significant donation boosts Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s most ambitious fundraising campaign

Townline’s $600,000 donation helps purchase new 3 Telsa MRI for Royal Jubilee Hospital

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

Island wildlife rescue centre sees 9 poisoned birds since January

MARS trying to fundraise for ‘rigorous and expensive’ lead poisoning treatment

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

Most Read