$50 Million? Look Out B.C. Teachers, You’re Being Fleeced.

PhotoCall me a cynic, but B.C.’s teachers shouldn’t accept a nickel from the B.C. government until the government publicly explains what the money represents.

B.C. teachers and government negotiators have reached a deal to add $50 million dollars to the system this year to “jump start” negotiations. Neither side wanted “children and schools to suffer” while complex negotiations went on.

But what is this money? Is it a small down payment on a larger debt, or “new money” as chronically tone deaf Minister Mike Bernier posits? Will government try to sell it to voters as “new money” or what it actually is – a small portion of returned heist money?

And unless what it represents is clear, the beatings at the hands of the government will continue, despite their embarrassing and long overdue trip to the woodshed at the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada.

While $50 million dollars will be a welcome first drip in refilling the education bucket kicked over by Christy Clark in 2001’s contract stripping, the money represents different things to different people.

To public school advocates and educators, $50 million is a quick down payment on a much larger settlement, to be negotiated later. The B.C.T.F. has conservatively pegged the amount taken from schools over sixteen years at $300 million (it’s likely closer to $2 billion). Teachers think negotiations have just begun, and that more money will be forthcoming.

To the B.C government, $50 million is merely a strategic political move.

First, $50 million allows the government to buy educational altruism in the minds of voters fed up with sixteen years of B.C.’s education wars.

“The Supreme Court said we’ve been bad and mean for sixteen years; but now we’re excited about investing more money in children because now we suddenly care about public education- families first!” ( somewhat paraphrased)

$50 million buys the government a tube of culpability ointment which they will apply liberally (pun intended) from now until May’s election.

Second, to the government, $50 million is not a down payment, it’s a cap. Because there’s a provincial election in May they won’t ever be required to give a higher sum than $50 million.

Were the government to lose May’s election, they need only sit in opposition and snipe about why the new government wasn’t following the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment, a process which their government had magnanimously just begun?

And should the government win May’s election, they will be purged of all sins and be able to claim a mandate for their prudent educational governance.

And don’t forget the card teachers have just dealt the government. If pressed, the government can now finally point to a successful, meaningful negotiation with teachers.

They also have the “taxpayers can’t afford anymore/ no one can negotiate with this militant union” strategy, which they can easily resurrect, having given so much new money to education.

Armed with a new mandate, how expeditiously might we expect further negotiations to go? Having won the election while touting a huge, $50 million dollar infusion of “new money” into the system, does anyone actually think they would immediately offer more the following year?

In the unlikely event they were forced, by the public, the media, or whatever Supreme Court police assure people comply with court rulings, a media honeymooning government might toss another $20 million of “new money” at education in year two, and perhaps a few million the following year.

To the government, this $50 million agreement represents at least a settlement cap, at worst, the final solution.

Let’s be clear. This provincial government has proven its dishonorable intentions since Christy Clark’s original sin in 2001 and sixteen years of pogrom and obfuscation.

B.C.T.F President Glen Hansman, social media and even Vaughan Palmer have adamantly described the $50 million dollars as a small refund on money unconstitutionally taken from schools.

But in discussing the $50 million dollar agreement, Education Minister Mike Bernier emphasized repeatedly that the $50 million was “new money ” piled upon the substantial 5 billion plus the government already gives to public education, despite plummeting enrolment. (up significantly since 2001 zzzzzz..)

The Supreme Court settlement is the only thing teachers have that can get this government to put any money into education.

By allowing government to take education off the front burner for this election cycle and tout $50 million dollars of “new money” as meaningful atonement for their sins, teachers may have sold their leverage at a bad time and far too cheaply.


About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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2 Responses to $50 Million? Look Out B.C. Teachers, You’re Being Fleeced.

  1. Debbie says:

    The BCTF and BCPSEA are not in negotiations. They are in discussions to implement the court decision. The court ruling was for “an immediate” resolution, which the BCTF is still in discussions to implement. Notice the words I am using- “discussions, implement”. I do not disagree with some of your thoughts on this issue- I do not believe we have sold our leverage. But I don’t think you are giving the general public and parents their due. They are quite aware of how this government spins things, and they are aware of what the $50 million means…. for now. Teachers are absolutely aware of the government’s spin…. and believe you me….. we won’t be letting them off the hook any time soon, or any time after that!


    • jimnelson806 says:

      I’m afraid the BCTF and the government are most definitely in negotiations about how to implement the court’s decision.The latest contract teachers were forced to sign says that any court decision would form the “basis of discussions” in the future, because we all know “circumstances have changed since 2001.”Further , it said that the “School Improvement Fund” would function as the vehicle for dispersement of any future court ruled funds.The government controls this fund, although it is encouraging to see they haven’t seemed to mention it – yet.
      (say tuned)
      It would be instructive here to consider the record of this government vis a vis “discussions”. They have proven over 16 years that their goal is to cut funding to public education as much as possible, and to help private education as much as can be rationalized.They have been spectacularly disrespectful of public education and teachers since Christy Clark first got involved in 2001. If you read the comments of Chris Rowley (above) you get a taste of the constituency the government is successfully appealing to.
      I’m not mistaken that the government wants to use $50 million to remove education as an election issue.The BCTF has a little over three months to secure more money towards the “implementation” of the court ruling.Gov’t plan is to stall.After the election, all bets are off if these guys get re-elected.
      There is no indication that education will be an election issue in May,as voters who know little about education will see that gov’t has begun to replace the money they removed from education,so it’s all good.They will be swayed by the “budget surplus”,Site C, “prudent Government”,”best economy in Canada”, “no tax increases” nonsense spouted by the government, and the “you wouldn’t want to return to the NDP 90s would you” mantra.
      I so very much want to be wrong, and I wish I had your faith, but I’ve seen the depths of Christy Clark’s vendetta against teachers for too long.


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