BC's teachers' union reaches tentative agreement with provincial government

Mar 27 2020, 7:06 am

The BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and BC Public Schools Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) have tentatively reached a deal with the provincial government for a new contract for teachers across the province.

In a news release Thursday evening, the provincial government said the agreement, under the Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate (SSNM), “focuses on improving services for people and ensuring fair and affordable compensation.”

This agreement covers over 45,000 teachers represented by BCTF across 60 school districts. No details have been made public as the agreement still needs to be ratified by members of BCSPEA.

Approximately 290,000 public sector employees in BC are covered by tentative or ratified agreements reached under the provincial government’s BCPSEA.

Teachers have been without a contract since June 2019, and negotiations resumed earlier this year. The last agreement was signed in 2014, following a prolonged strike at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

This comes as the provincial government enters the early stages of combatting the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is expected to result in a budget deficit for the fiscal year due to both significantly higher expenditures to fight the pandemic and lower tax revenues as a result of the depressed economic activity.

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 face some uncertainty, with the provincial government suspending all in-class instruction until further notice. School was to resume on March 30, after spring break, but will not happen as planned with heightened calls for physical distancing and self-isolation.

It is unclear whether students will be able to return to their classrooms before the end of the school year in June. All students eligible to graduate from Grade 12 will graduate, with the only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students being the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. Graduation assessments for students in Grade 10 and Grade 11 are postponed.

“Since in-class instruction has been suspended, school districts and independent school authorities are currently reviewing and planning learning opportunities for students,” reads a bulletin by the BC Ministry of Education on Wednesday.

“It is up to local boards of education and independent school authorities to determine hours of operation for and access to school board offices and school offices.”

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