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

Heart of our city – Fighting for the road to recovery

World champion kick-boxer wins at Trinity House recovery program

Tour recognizes Prince Rupert’s rich labour history

Epic story of the Battle of Kelly’s Cut put Rupert on the labour radar

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Oily rain runoff down the drain causes concern for Prince Rupert residents

Immediate action taken to alleviate any concerns, road paving contractor said.

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Most Read