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

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

COVID-19: Coast Mountain College cancels, postpones programs on Haida Gwaii

General interest and workforce training courses cancelled, field school postponed

UPDATE: Mother of missing Indigenous woman pleads for her safe return

23-year-old Shaylanna Lewis, who also uses the surname Brown, was last seen on March 21

UPDATE: Non-emergency ePACT alert provides information about COVID-19 response

Haida Gwaii communities sent out the alert on March 27

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read