The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has elected Teri Mooring as the union’s new president.
Mooring will take over from Glen Hansman when his three-year term comes to an end on June 30.
The transition takes place in the midst of ongoing negotiations over a new contract deal between teachers and the provincial government. The current deal expires on June 30 and was signed in 2014 after contentious negotiations led to a teachers’ strike.
“Definitely the biggest priority in the negotiations is looking at getting a fairly negotiated deal for teachers at the negotiation table,” Mooring said.
“Recruitment and retention is a big issue across the province and we need to see some meaningful salary increases at the negotiating table.”
Mooring says some of her priorities include looking forward to raising awareness about the inequities facing schools in small, rural and remote communities. She also wants to make sure the same opportunities for children and teachers are available in small towns that exist in large urban areas.
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But there is no question that the pending negotiations will dominate the first few months as she prepares to officially take over as president.
The BCTF has raised concerns that there is a severe teacher shortage that has not been made up since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the province had to restore class size and composition to 2002 levels.
The government is also struggling to recruit teachers because of lower wages than other jurisdictions and the ongoing affordability crisis in much of B.C.
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“We need to do something to recruit teachers from across the country to B.C.,” Mooring said.
“We need to do something to attract teachers from across the country to B.C. We are dealing with a low salary, $20,000 less than Ontario and Alberta, and we are the lowest in all of the western provinces. So we really need to make sure that we bump that up, and when you look at the affordability issues, it’s a real issue.”
Mooring has been a vice-president of the BCTF for the last six years. She ran unopposed for the president position.
The BCTF has a long-standing practice that presidents serve for a maximum of three years, although they must seek re-election every year.