BC Teachers’ Federation President Teri Mooring acknowledged some promising investments in K–12 public education announced today, along with enhancements to provincial childcare funding to support families with young children. However, an absence of targeted funding for neither COVID-19 related safety measures nor inflationary costs leaves Mooring and teachers throughout the province concerned that districts may be forced to follow through on cutbacks to specialized programs and staffing. It’s important that the public education system be resilient and supportive of children and families, it’s not at all clear there is enough in the budget to provide the additional supports necessary during and after the pandemic.
“We’re encouraged to see the BC government’s budget funding our negotiated collective agreement, with the dollars following the growth trajectory we’re expecting, both in terms of enrolment and staffing requirements,” said Mooring.
“The most significant outstanding question is whether the total operational funding will be enough to cover the deficits so many districts are facing. Today’s budget announcement failed to answer that for us, which means that the future of many jobs and programs remain precarious until we see further details of district funding.”
At this time, the BC government has not earmarked specific funding for enhanced health and safety protocols in schools in the next school year. “Though the government has committed to assessing pandemic-related needs in schools as planning for the fall continues, we really would have hoped to see dedicated funding in this budget to ensure there is adequate PPE, ventilation, enhanced cleaning, and physical distancing in classrooms come September,” said Mooring. “This is something we’ve spent a year advocating for, and I know many of our teachers had hoped the government would announce dedicated funding for safer schools and classrooms.”
Outside of K–12 education funding, Mooring was pleased to learn of the government’s plans to further expand its commitment to affordable childcare, as well as making public transportation free for children under 12, funding mental health initiatives, and increasing income assistance rates. At the same time, Mooring expressed disappointment in the absence of any expressed commitment to paid sick leave for all workers in the province.
The BCTF will be releasing a detailed analysis of the provincial budget in the coming days.
For more information, contact Lauren Hutchison, BCTF Media and Public Relations, at 604-340-1959.