Provincial education minister Rob Fleming (right), here seen during Thursday’s official opening of a new playground at Sidney Elementary School with Dave Eberwein, superintendent of schools for School District No. 62 and local MLA Adam Olsen, could not give a date when public teachers and their employers would reach a settlement (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

B.C. education minister defends NDP actions as teachers remain without contract

Rob Fleming made the comment in Sidney after opening a play ground

Provincial education minister Rob Fleming said his party “absolutely” remains a friend of teachers, but could not give a firm date when contract talks with teachers would lead to a settlement.

“As I have said previously, we will stay at it as long as it takes to get an agreement,” he said. “We have done that now with 225,000 other public servants, most recently with ambulance-paramedics. We continue to conclude agreements with bargaining units throughout the public service, many of them in tough, front-line positions. I know teaching is a very difficult position from [the perspective] of our government and we want to reach an agreement with them, just as we have nurses and other professions in B.C.”

Fleming made these comments after speaking to reporters in Sidney after officially opening a new playground at Sidney Elementary School.

RELATED: Sidney students, provincial education minister zip into new school playground

The agreement between the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCFT) and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) expired on June 30. Teachers returned to classrooms without an agreement with a mediator trying to resolve the impasse.

“With respect to the mediator, there are few details that I wish to comment on, because they have called on both parties to adhere to a black out,” he said. “We are very hopeful that we continue to have productive conversations that will lead to a settlement.”

With the current labour situation, the New Democrats find themselves in a position of having to negotiate with a group — public education teachers — which it has historically courted.

“Absolutely,” said Fleming, when asked whether New Democrats still remain friends of teachers. “I think our funding record shows that — $1 billion of new resources in the school system. British Columbia hasn’t seen this in decades.”

British Columbia, he said, is making progress. “You can’t fix 16 years overnight, but we have turned the corner,” he said.

Fleming also commented on educational assistants (EAs) after two View Royal Elementary parents had expressed concerns about the level of care for their children, both on the autism spectrum. They’re well-behaved, aren’t boisterous in the classroom, but they require extra attention from educational assistants.

RELATED: ‘This is unacceptable’: View Royal parents frustrated over lack of resources for students

“Sometimes he gets shuffled between four to five EAs a day,” said Cristina Gage, one of the mothers.

Fleming said that it is a real concern for him, because the provincial education is inclusive.

“I can well understand that a parent may have if their child is not able to participate on a daily basis in the school,” he said. “It is not for a lack of resources. Our government has increased special education funding by 23 per cent since we formed government two years ago. That is a $106 million additional dollars to school districts to be able to hire educational assistants, to be able to provide special education teachers and other supports in the classroom.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boundary non-profits now eligible for emergency funds

Local charities can apply to get grants from the $40,000 pot, managed by the Phoenix Foundation

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

BC Ferries losing up to $1.5 million each day as pandemic tanks ridership

The company does not qualify for the wage subsidy

Chilliwack school board censures trustee Barry Neufeld after controversial Facebook post

Board chair issues statement on censure but little else regarding Facebook post controversy

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks

JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story online

Book will be a fairy tale for kids and benefit those particularly affected by the pandemic

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read