Province, BCTF agree on $50M for new teachers

The province says it has reached an agreement with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to spend $50 million on “priority” hiring of new teachers and support staff after it lost a Supreme Court fight with the union in November.

Announcement result of landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision BCTF won in November

The B.C. Teachers' Federation won a court decision in November which requires the province to restore staffing, such as teachers and librarians, to 2002 levels. (Shutterstock/Syda Productions)

The province says it has reached an agreement with the B.C. Teachers' Federation to spend $50 million on "priority" hiring of new teachers and support staff.

It says the funding is for the 2016-17 school year and equates to compensation for 1,100 teachers. The actual number of positions is to be determined by districts, local unions, and the hiring process.

The hiring is the result of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision the BCTF won on the right to negotiate class size and composition in November.

The dispute goes back to 2002, when the province used legislation to strip teachers of the right to bargain class size and composition.

Province says announcement 'first step'

The court decision required the province to restore staffing, such as teachers and librarians, to 2002 levels.

The BCTF estimates it will cost $300 million each school year for that restoration, and in today's announcement, the province called the $50 million for 2016-17 the "first step" in complying with the court decision.

"This new funding will help to kick-start the changes we all know are required following the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision," Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a statement.

BCTF says negotiations back on next week

At a press conference, BCTF president Glen Hansman also stressed the agreement is not the final decision, adding significantly more funding is needed from the government.

"It's important for parents and the public to understand how our restored contract language will make a difference for kids," Hansman said.

"The language guarantees supports for students with special needs and manageable class sizes for all. It ensures teacher-librarians, counsellors, English language and other specialist teachers are there to give students the individual attention they need."

The BCTF says negotiations will continue next week.