For over 15 years, repeated promises to seismically upgrade BC schools have been broken and multiple plans have been delayed, leaving BC's teachers, school support staff, and students in unsafe and dangerous buildings, BCTF President Glen Hansman said today.
“It's time for the delays to end and for the government to fully fund the needed upgrades at BC schools to ensure that the lives our students, teachers, and other workers are not put at unnecessary risk in the likely event of an earthquake,” said Hansman. “For too long, seismic safety in our schools has been treated like an additional cost burden on education budgets, instead of the urgent public safety concern it is. Protecting lives in our schools shouldn't be treated as a political or partisan tool by the government. In recent months we've seen the government flip flop and issue confusing directives on utilization rates.
Successive Ministers of Education, all the way back to Christy Clark, have made promises on seismic funding and then broken them. It's hard to take any of their commitments seriously when they continue to push back their timelines. BC kids are in unsafe schools now. The work needs to happen now.”
Hansman also noted that the need for seismic upgrading in BC schools goes beyond the workers and students who spend their days inside them. “The safety of entire communities is actually compromised when they cannot depend on schools as a safe space, meeting place, or shelter in the event of an earthquake.”
In October, the BCTF Executive Committee passed the following motion urging the government to take immediate action on seismic safety.
That all new public schools be constructed or upgraded and all existing schools be upgraded to mitigate earthquake damage and that:
- adequate provincial funding for these upgrades be provided.
- the government fully fund this urgent imperative as a public safety concern, rather than as an additional pressure on education budgets.
- that a concrete plan be put in place and adhered to in order that all upgrades be completed no later than 2025