BCTF wins grievance over public school teacher shortage in B.C.

The union filed the complaint in the spring, claiming the Chilliwack school board had failed to hire enough teachers to fill demand.

Union says district hasn't hired enough teachers, pulled specialists away from roles

British Columbia's teachers' union has won a grievance over a shortage of educators in the province. It said the ongoing shortfall of teachers and specialists has been a problem has caused significant disruptions to classrooms.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) has won a grievance over a shortage of educators in the province.

The union filed the complaint in the spring, claiming the Chilliwack school board failed to hire enough teachers to fill demand.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2016 forced the provincial government to restore staffing to 2002 levels after it ruled a former Liberal government improperly took away the union's right to bargain class size and the composition of those classes.

A collective agreement was reached on class size and composition in March 2017, but BCTF president Glen Hansman said not enough has been done since then to resolve the teacher shortage.

British Columbia Teachers' Federation president Glen Hansman says not enough has been done to resolve the teacher shortage. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

In her decision Thursday, arbitrator Jennifer Glougie found that the Chilliwack School District had violated that agreement.

The inadequate hiring meant many specialized teaching staff — such as counsellors, teacher-librarians and special education teachers — were pulled from their positions to fill in as classroom teachers.

"That shouldn't have been happening — not to the degree that is was," said BCTF president Glen Hansman.

Government foresaw challenges

In June, Education Minister Rob Fleming said the government knew there would be challenges as districts tried to hire the largest number of teachers in generations.

He said he believed school districts would be able to complete their hiring and replenish teacher-on-call lists in time for the school year.

Hansman said the ruling will set a precedent for the union's cases against other school districts it says have also failed to hire properly.

With files from Joel Ballard and the Canadian Press

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