Vancouver School Board, desperate for French teachers, starts recruiting in Montreal

Representatives from the board are hoping to entice McGill education grads to apply for jobs in B.C.

Representatives from the board are hoping to entice McGill education grads to apply for jobs in B.C.

The shortage of French immersion teachers in Vancouver has led the school board to look elsewhere for its recruitment needs. (Canadian Parents for French)

The Vancouver School Board is in desperate need of French immersion teachers, and representatives on a cross-country tour to recruit qualified candidates are stopping by the McGill education career fair Monday.

As of January, the VSB had 34 open teaching positions, including 12 French immersion jobs.

"We have the largest French immersion program in the province," said Cheryl Douglas, manager of recruitment at the VSB. "Many parents are eager to be in it."

Last year, Vancouver began hiring large numbers of teachers to meet new provincial class size and composition rules, which required more than 2,000 teachers to be hired across British Columbia.

Douglas will be speaking with students at the career fair Monday afternoon in an effort to entice them to apply for jobs across the country.

"Vancouver is an easy sell," she said. "It's a small but vibrant Francophone community."

But she admitted the board has more trouble attracting and keeping teachers than other parts of BC because the cost of living is so high. 

That's why they are offering a $1,500 moving allowance to teachers willing to come from outside of the province.

Some French immersion classes are being covered by vice-principals and teacher librarians until permanent replacements can be found. (CBC)

She said that some of the French immersion classes are currently being covered by vice-principals, teacher librarians and substitutes.

Schools are so keen to get the positions filled that some principals and teachers have taken to offering extra rooms in their homes as temporary accommodation, she explained. 

Permanent jobs up for grabs

Véronique Gingras, who works at McGill Career and Planning Services and organized the event, told CBC that demand is high for French teachers right now.

"I received a lot of requests for the fair this year from out-of-province school boards," she said. "Students are more and more willing to go out of province," she noted.

The VSB says that parents are keen to get their kids into French immersion programs and the need for teachers is desperate. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)

For teachers in Montreal, at some of the most competitive school boards, it can take as long as five years to get a permanent job according to Gingras.

Fiona Benson, who teaches in the McGill department of integrated studies in education, says the need for French immersion teachers isn't limited to B.C., but can be seen across the country.

She said of the 68 groups presenting at the career fair, about half of them aiming to woo potential future employees come from outside Quebec.

"It's a lovely and very rich mix of opportunities both from within Quebec, across Canada and beyond," she said.

About the Author

Marilla Steuter-Martin

Marilla Steuter-Martin is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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