B.C. teachers' strike: No school year start Tuesday
All parties agree: Kids won't be in class Sept. 2
When veteran mediator Vince Ready declared an impasse and walked away from talks between British Columbia teachers and their employer Saturday, parents' hopes for the school year to start on time walked out with him.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said he was "disappointed" at the outcome of this week's failed negotiations, and wishes he had better news to share with students, parents and teachers.
"What should be a time of excitement and anticipation will instead be marked by frustration and uncertainty," he said in a written statement Saturday.
"I wish I could tell British Columbians when students will be back in school. But right now, I don't see any quick or easy solutions."
Since Thursday, Ready had been trying to develop a framework for mediation to bring the province's 40,000 public school teachers back to work, but he said the positions of both sides seemed to him to be intractable.
"I just see no basis at this point for meaningful negotiations or mediation," he told reporters in Richmond, B.C., Saturday.
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At this point it's clear there will not be school on Tuesday- Peter Cameron, B.C. Public School Employers' Association negotiator
Peter Cameron, negotiator for the B.C. Public School Employers' Association, which has been bargaining on behalf of government, said his side made concessions but there was obviously not enough common ground and the current round of talks was now over.
"I hope we can get back as soon as possible, but at this point it's clear there will not be school on Tuesday, and that teachers will be striking Tuesday and for several more days next week, at least," he told CBC News.
Cameron says the teachers need to reduce their demands for more money before the issues around class size and composition can be discussed.
- ANALYSIS | Class size and composition are key issues
Jim Iker, president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, had been optimistic earlier this week that classes would get underway next week, but admitted after Saturday's failed talks that the strike would continue after Labour Day.
"As of right now, school will not be starting on the second of September, though our teachers would love to be back at work," he said.
Iker, blaming the failure of the negotiations on government, also issued a request to British Columbians.
"I encourage all of you to contact your MLAs and let them know it's time for government to compromise, [and] increase funding to address the issues related to class size, and composition and learning specialist levels," he said.
Neither the teachers' union nor the employers' association has set a date for a return to the bargaining table.
The government has said it will not legislate teachers back to work, but has proposed giving parents of children aged 12 and under $40 a day to help with daycare costs should the strike continue.
With files from The Canadian Press