Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union rallied outside MLA Jennifer Rice’s office to raise awareness regarding what they perceive to be the under-funding of B.C’s education.
This was the second rally in less than a month’s time for the union, who is demanding an increase of funding for education across the board. The theme of Monday’s mobilization was apples — referencing a recent letter to the editor exchange between both parties — with the union giving out the fruit to passersby as they informed them of their cause.
“We should compare the NDP of the past to the NDP of now and their under-funding of education. In 2001 funding was 20 per cent of their budget which is now 11 per cent,” Kathy Murphy, the acting president of the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union, said.
Murphy explained that students in B.C. are funded $1,800 less than the national average and teachers in British Columbia are the second lowest paid in Canada.
|The union handed out apples to passersby as they informed them of their cause. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
“We are committed to making the investments in education that are needed after years of B.C. Liberal neglect. In 2019-2020, we are increasing K-12 operating funding to a total of $6.6 billion — $1 billion more than the previous government provided in 2016-17. Since forming government in 2017, we have increased our education budget by 17.1 per cent, compared to an increase in enrolment of only 3.2 per cent,” responded MLA Rice in an email exchange with The Northern View.
Rice is currently in Victoria for a convening of the legislature and was therefore not at able to meet with the union at their rally. However, Murphy said MLA Rice has been radio silent since their last gathering outside her office on Sept. 30.
The union is also in a funding model review and negotiating a new contract for teachers with the province.
“We want the parties to reach a fair deal that works for students, parents and teachers. It is encouraging that both sides have agreed to mediation, and that process is ongoing. The mediator’s request for a media blackout remains in place, and we are respecting that request,” MLA Rice stated.
|Raegan Sawka, representative and former president of the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union rallied outside MLA Jennifer Rice’s office with fellow teachers, to raise awareness regarding what they perceive to be the under-funding of B.C’s education. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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