BCTF members, all dressed in red, lined Douglas Street to hand out leaflets, wave their signs and talk with residents and BC NDP Convention attendees on Saturday. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

BCTF members, all dressed in red, lined Douglas Street to hand out leaflets, wave their signs and talk with residents and BC NDP Convention attendees on Saturday. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

B.C. Teachers’ Federation protests outside BC NDP Convention

‘Our working conditions are the kids’ learning conditions and you can’t separate that,’ teacher says

Honks from vehicles rang out through the cool morning air as they passed members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) union that had gathered outside the BC NDP Convention at the Victoria Conference Centre on Saturday morning just before 9 a.m. and then again in the afternoon.

The teachers, all dressed in red, lined Douglas Street to hand out leaflets, wave their signs and talk with residents and convention attendees.

The union members were joined by BCTF President Teri Mooring who was in town for a meeting with the representative assembly – made up of some 300 teachers – at the Empress Hotel. Mooring also addressed convention delegates with a speech at 1 p.m.

Coquitlam teacher Deither Malakoff had come over to the Island for the demonstration and to spread the word about the issues B.C. teachers are facing when it comes to the negotiations with the province and with the new funding model being proposed.

READ ALSO: John Horgan touts accomplishments at B.C. NDP convention

The prevalence model, which is used in other provinces, would provide funding for students who need extra assistance based on statistics, not on head counts the way it is now, Malakoff explained. This could mean the students with extra needs could go unnoticed and fall through the cracks due to a lack of resources.

Teachers already pay for so much out of pocket including school supplies and other resources for students, said Chris Rolls, president of the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association and a teacher of 34 years. The new funding formula is unclear and will likely leave kids and parents fighting for support, she explained.

Rolls also noted that if class size and composition are not addressed in the new teacher contract, teachers will be unable to address the individual needs of all their students due to a lack of time and resources.

The working conditions for teachers in B.C. are resulting in a teacher shortage, Rolls said. New teachers can move to Alberta and make $20,000 more per year, she explained, emphasizing the salary gap between B.C. and most other provinces. She explained that new teachers in B.C. are basically at the poverty line.

Rolls pointed out that the negotiations and the protest on Saturday aren’t just about asking for a cost of living increase, but about making things better for students.

READ ALSO: Saanich mom on a bike turned away in Tim Hortons drive-thru

“Our working conditions are the kids’ learning conditions and you can’t separate that.”

The BCTF thought that the BC NDP recognized the importance of teachers in a way that the former BC Liberal government didn’t, Rolls said, but teachers are becoming disheartened.

Premier John Horgan acknowledged the protestors’ presence outside after making his keynote speech at the convention. He emphasized that class size and composition issues are “critically important to teachers [and] critically important to outcomes for kids” and that the province supports that.

“We believe in free and fair collective bargaining,” Horgan said. “We’re hopeful we can get a good agreement.”

There were several other protest groups outside the convention hall including the South Island Community Overdose Response Network and members of various environmental advocacy groups.

With files from Tom Fletcher.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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

Just Posted

Kitselas First Nation received a round of COVID-19 vaccine shots. (Kitselas First Nation image)
Kitselas receives COVID-19 vaccine

Delivery of vaccine was expedited after cluster of cases in community

Northern Health has issued COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. (COVID-19/ CDC Image)
Two more COVID-19 exposure notices issued for schools in Terrace

Exposures took place at Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read