B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Glen Hansman on Tuesday praised the new government’s focus on childcare and housing in the NDP’s first full budget, saying, “British Columbia needs to tackle the current affordability crisis in order to solve the ongoing teacher shortage in BC schools.”
“The new BC budget’s focus on housing and universal childcare will benefit many of BC’s public school teachers,” said Hansman. “BC has several thousand young teachers who were hired following our Supreme Court of Canada win. They and many others will benefit from the start of a new affordable childcare program. This budget’s overall focus on affordability will help recruit qualified teachers from other provinces to BC to help address our province’s ongoing teacher shortage.”
Hansman explained that taking real action on affordability is an important part of a robust teacher recruitment and retention strategy.
“It’s challenging to recruit teachers from Alberta or Ontario when starting salaries for BC teachers are significantly lower and the cost of living is higher,” said Hansman. “Investments in programs like childcare and fixing the real estate crisis will help BC be more attractive to out-of-province teachers. The BCTF will continue to work with the government on other recruitment strategies like housing and moving allowances, mentorship programs, as well as making teachers’ wages more competitive with other provinces.”
On the $212 million increase in operating funding for public schools Glen Hansman said, “BC’s 2018–19 budget also follows through on the new government’s commitment to keep increasing the province’s investment in public education. Since the BCTF’s Supreme Court of Canada win, there have been thousands of teachers restored to BC schools. The new funding increases for the coming school year will ensure school districts can hire even more specialists and better meet the needs of students. It’s also very encouraging to see new funding for Indigenous language revitalization and I look forward to more details about how schools will fit into that important reconciliation work.”
Hansman acknowledged that it will take time to undo the damage done after 16 years of cuts by the previous BC Liberal government, but praised the new government’s commitment to annual funding increases. Hansman stressed that the government needs to boost funding over the next two years to account for the upcoming bargaining round and reverse the trend of education spending declining as a share of BC’s GDP.
“There are still a lot of challenges in our schools right now that this new funding won’t solve outright, but it’s refreshing to see a government plan for ongoing funding increases,” said Hansman. “One of the biggest challenges remains making sure there are enough specialist teachers and education assistants to properly support children with special needs and ensure all our students get the one-on-one or small group time they need. Budget 2018 keeps BC moving in a better direction and the BCTF will continue our advocacy with the other education partner groups to enhance public education funding even more in the years to come.”