Parents get website guide to teacher strike

As talks between the B.C. Teachers' Federation and government continue, support site guides parents to online resources

Education Minister Peter Fassbender

The B.C. government has launched a new website to prepare parents for a possible continuation of the teacher strike after Labour Day.

The website promises the latest bargaining updates on B.C.’s festering teacher dispute, and will act as a portal for parents registering to collect $40 a day for each child under 12 if the strike drags on.

Talks have continued under a media blackout since mediator Vince Ready met the two sides last week.

“Mr. Ready agreed to monitor the situation, and to resume exploratory talks or commence full mediation when he believes it will be productive,” the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association said in a brief statement.

Talks broke off and a full-scale strike and lockout ended the school year in June. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher met both sides earlier but declined to attempt mediation, after finding too large a gap between the two sides.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCPSEA chief negotiator Peter Cameron have maintained that the BCTF’s benefit demands remain far beyond those of other public sector unions that have settled contracts. Also at issue is class size and special needs support, with BCPSEA’s latest offer rejected by the union and the latest of a series of court actions scheduled for this fall.

Ready’s last involvement in the long-running series of teacher disputes was as an industrial inquiry commissioner in 2007. At that time he recommended that a senior provincial official be involved in talks along with an independent mediator.