VANCOUVER – Details have now emerged on the six-year deal that has been negotiated between the BCTF and the provincial government.
Teachers have yet to vote on the deal, which will take place on Thursday, and the question of when kids will go back to school remains unanswered at this time.
An e-mail was sent to BCTF members early Tuesday evening outlining the tentative deal; read the full text of the e-mail here.
But this is what is currently known about the tentative deal:
Wages: A 7.25 per cent increase over the six years, which is what the government had been offering for several months.
Class size and composition: The government will create a $400 million teaching fund that will allow them to hire approximately 1000 new teachers over the course of the six-year deal. This fund can be used to hire both regular teachers and specialists. The government had originally offered $300 million for the fund.
One-time payout: The government is giving the BCTF a payment of $108 million they can use as they see fit. There is speculation the BCTF may use it to give its members a signing bonus of approximately $3,500 per teacher – which would be close to the $5,000 the BCTF was asking for.
E80: The government withdrew the controversial E80 clause, which would have superceded any final court decision over class size and composition stemming from the 2002 teachers’ dispute. Instead, the two sides agreed to a re-opening clause, which would allow either side to separately negotiate over specific issues arising from any future verdict.
Premier Christy Clark said the deal is “historic” and has never been done in British Columbia’s history.
“That means five years of labour peace ahead of us,” added Clark. “Those are five years in which we can spend our time, rather than bargaining and being in a constant state, as we have been for almost 30 years, of moving from one bargaining session to the next.
“We’ll have five years in which we can sit and talk about the things that really matter and that’s improving education for children in classrooms.”
BCTF president Jim Iker said a simple “thank you” to the 41,000 teachers in B.C.
“You stood up for what you believed in and stood strong for your rights in a B.C. public education system,” said Iker, who also thanked the thousands of parents, students and community groups who have supported the teachers through the strike.
WATCH: Tuesday’s press conference with BCTF President Jim Iker
The BCTF is recommending the teachers vote ‘yes’ to ratify the agreement.
To finalize the deal, it appears the government moved the most on class size and composition and the BCTF moved the most on wages.
Iker said the public will be made aware of all the details in the agreement once the deal has been ratified.
Clark said the tentative deal between teachers and government “allows us to reset our relationship, which has been dysfunctional for so long.” She said it took time and she knows it was a difficult time for parents and teachers but it was worth it.
“We found a way to give teachers a fair raise, found ways to improve classrooms without raising taxes and cutting services,” said Clark.
She confirmed the deal is within the government’s fiscal plan. They will not be raising taxes or increasing the deficit. Clark also said there was no outside pressure to get the deal done.
“I know, both sides, all sides in this, worked really really hard to get to an agreement.”
WATCH: Tuesday’s press conference with Premier Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said when he heard the news there was a tentative agreement, he thanked BCTF president Jim Iker for his work and his willingness to “give and take” during the negotiations.
“I am very proud and humbled to be a part of this government that does understand these issues and wants to chart a future for our kids for now and generations to come,” said Fassbender.
Clark said if teachers vote in favour of the deal, “kids across the province could be back in school as early as Monday.”
Iker said schools will be open sometime next week but would not give any more specifics.
School districts will be making a decision over the next few days about when schools will be open and kids and teachers can return to the classroom.
“We are working on plans to compensate for the five school weeks lost due to the strike,” said Fassbender.
– With files from Keith Baldrey