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BCTF claims major victory in public school teacher shortage in B.C.

Click to play video: 'BCTF wins staffing grievance against government' BCTF wins staffing grievance against government
WATCH: The BC Teachers' Federation has won a grievance battle against the province's school boards for failing to hire enough teachers to meet new class size requirements. Grace Ke has the story – Oct 16, 2018

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is claiming a major victory after a grievance victory in connection to the shortage of educators in the province.

School districts will no longer be able to pull teacher-librarians, counsellors and other special education teachers from their normal duties when a classroom teacher is absent. The union filed the complaint last spring stating the Chilliwack school board didn’t hire enough teachers to fill demand.

READ MORE: Nearly 300 teachers still needed across the province: BCTF

“Because of the failure to fill classroom teaching positions, students with special needs have been losing out,” said BCTF president Glen Hansman. “Every time a specialist teacher is required to fill in for a classroom teacher, their special programs are set aside.”

Many substitute teachers were hired to full-time teaching positions created after a Supreme Court ruling that restored language around class size and composition.

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WATCH HERE: What the BCTF says it takes to improve B.C. classrooms

Click to play video: 'What the BCTF says it takes to improve B.C. classrooms' What the BCTF says it takes to improve B.C. classrooms
What the BCTF says it takes to improve B.C. classrooms – Sep 4, 2018

“By reassigning teacher librarians to duties outside the scope of their assignments and failing to replace them when they were absent, the employer prevented the minimum staffing ratios required by the restored language from being fully realized,” ruled arbitrator Jennifer Glougie in her decision.

Glougie added that “no emergency existed” that would have warranted a librarian to fill in for an absent teacher.

WATCH HERE: BCTF wins landmark class size case

Click to play video: 'BCTF wins landmark class size case' BCTF wins landmark class size case
BCTF wins landmark class size case – Nov 10, 2016

The BC Public School Employers’ Association is reviewing the arbitrator’s decision.

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The Ministry of Education says these issues will be worked out at the bargaining table between school districts, the union and the employer. The ministry says job vacancies are about one per cent of the workforce, much lower than experienced in 2017.

The Chilliwack School District was used in this arbitration but the BCTF says the decision will provide guidance in resolving similar issues in other school districts.

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