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VANCOUVER-BC Teachers' Federation President Jim Iker is calling on Education Minister Peter Fassbender and the provincial government to ensure the safety of all students, teachers, and school workers by upholding their promise to make seismic upgrades a priority.   

"Since reports of a decade-long delay to critical seismic upgrades in schools began circulating, the Minister of Education has pointed fingers at others instead of articulating a clear plan to get the work done," Iker said today. "Any delay to badly needed seismic upgrades will be another broken promise by this Minister.   

"Already in 2015, we've seen new cuts to adult education and a directive forcing school boards to cut $29 million this year and a further $25 million next year. Minister Fassbender promised to fully fund all collective agreement costs, but instead is playing a shell game by cutting funding in other areas."  

"Protecting children and the staff who work with them every day in our public schools must be a priority for this government. The necessary work needed to prepare our schools to withstand an inevitable earthquake must go ahead. I urge Minister Fassbender to end the finger pointing and get it done."  

Iker also raised the concern that recent cuts and ongoing waffling on seismic upgrades shows this government is not planning for the long-term well-being of BC's public education system. The government's own projections from BC Stats show that after a 16-year demographic slide in school-aged children (5-17 year olds) the numbers are back on the upswing this year in BC. There are already 15 school districts with increasing enrolment, signalling a new population shift that will require government to invest much more in our schools.  

Read Table 3 of British Columbia Population Projections: 2014 to 2041 from BC Stats to learn more about the coming growth in school-aged children.

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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