BC teachers hope new government will equal labour peace

Whether in court or on the picket lines, BC’s teachers have had their share of battles with the BC Liberal government over the last decade and a half.

But with the winds of change blowing in the Legislature, the president of the BC Teachers’ Federation is optimistic for some sustained labour peace.

“Hopefully this is a new chapter for public education in British Columbia as it will be a new chapter in British Columbia overall. And we look forward to whoever is the next minister of education and working with whoever becomes premier,” explains the federation’s Glen Hansman, when discussing the possibility of an NDP-Green minority or coalition. “Frankly, we’re looking forward to a much better labour relations climate and hopefully we’ll be able to focus on some other things, have constructive conversations around curriculum, aboriginal education, any number of issues.”

Right now, uncertainty means the federation is in limbo when it comes to hiring some 2,600 new teachers for next year.

But if an NDP-Green government is sworn in, Hansman hopes it will expedite things like new schools. “And get all of this done really quickly and plan over the longer-term rather than short-term budgeting and doing things in such a haphazard way.”

He’s also hopeful the pace of seismic upgrades and replacements to the province’s schools will speed up. “There’s no reason to be delaying this. If we’re able to commit the province to giant mega-projects like Site C, we could be having British Columbia trades people build those new schools and do the seismic upgrades.”

In March, 21,000 educators approved a new deal about class size and composition with the province that ended a 15-year bargaining battle