British Columbia

BCTF meeting with province to determine how to attract teachers to B.C.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation is meeting with the province to discuss measures to help B.C. school districts recruit and retain teachers — both from within this province and elsewhere in Canada.

Student loan forgiveness programs, help with moving expenses are two ideas up for discussion

November's Supreme Court decision is a large factor in the high number of teaching vacancies in B.C. (CBC)

The B.C. Teachers' Federation is meeting with the province to discuss what can be done to attract teachers to apply for jobs in B.C. school districts — and make them want to stay.

"We've been talking to the province about student loan forgiveness programs, about helping people with moving expenses," said BCTF President Glen Hansman.

"People graduating from universities in Canada right now have a huge student debt load, and so if someone is looking at British Columbia and saying, 'If I stay in Ontario, not only will I make more money, it costs me less to live, it's a lot easier for me to find a place to live,' then B.C. could be a hard sell."

Hansman told CBC's The Early Edition the BCTF is meeting with the province Tuesday to discuss these incentives.

He said the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the new NDP government will also be discussing other issues around restoring class size and composition following the BCTF's victory in the Supreme Court of Canada last year.

Restoring class size and composition

School districts around the province were scrambling in recent weeks to fill hundreds of teaching positions, in large part due to the Supreme Court ruling to restore class sizes to 2002 levels.

In the spring, many of these districts conducted a lot of outreach to find new teachers, including visiting teaching training programs in provinces all over Canada, Hansman said. 

Surrey Schools visited Quebec to look for French Immersion teachers, while the school district in Williams Lake visited Ontario in their search for teachers.

Glen Hansman, the president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, says the BCTF is in talks with the provincial government about what can be done to attract teachers to B.C. and keep them working here. (CBC)

"Outreach is one thing, but then you have to entice enough people to actually come here, apply for jobs, and then stay," he said.

"There's the short-term need, but then this is going to continue to be an issue on a long-term basis and so we want to see some concrete solutions [from the province]."

Hansman also said that over the last year many school districts experienced difficulties by not having enough teachers on call.

"So we need people to fill those contract positions and to have enough teachers teaching on call to do the day-to-day absences."

Incentives for teachers

The provincial government has already committed some funding to attract teachers to the province.

Last month, the Ministry of Education said they are spending $2 million for a Rural and Remote Workforce Sustainability Fund that includes incentives for teachers moving to rural areas, along with hiring initiatives that look outside of B.C.

Listen to Course Correction: Beginning the new era of B.C. education on CBC Radio 1 from Sept. 5 to 8, 2017

With files from Anita Bathe and Liam Britten.