VANCOUVER—British Columbia’s long-warring government and teachers’ union have made unprecedented educational labour peace with a six-year collective agreement wrought through months of embittered strike action and a final six-day sprint to settlement.
The historic deal, if ratified by teachers in a vote on Thursday, will reopen schools next week for half a million students, restore the flow of income to more than
40,000 teachers, and renew stability for families provincewide.
A breakthrough in negotiations came with the aid of respected mediator Vince Ready just before 4 a.m. Tuesday. The result is a tentative contract that provides teachers a wage increase, more funding for classroom composition, a plan to remedy outstanding grievances, and proceeds without a clause detested by the union.
“I think it’s a real game-changer for education in the long-term,” Premier Christy Clark told reporters in Vancouver on Tuesday, adding that it’s an opportunity to reset a 30-year dysfunctional relationship with the union.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker urged teachers to ratify the agreement. He said that along with improvements in salary and extended health and dental benefits, the deal will fund hundreds of new teaching positions annually, strikes out the contentious E80 clause around class size and composition, and includes a process to address future court decisions.