It’s back to school time everywhere in Canada except for those in B.C.’s public school system, thanks to a teachers’ strike that dragged on through the summer with no settlement between the school employers’ association and the union representing teachers.
As parents and students make other arrangements, here’s a snapshot of the impasse as it stands Tuesday:
1. At the bargaining table
On Saturday, mediator Vince Ready withdrew from talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, declaring the two sides too far apart for mediation to bridge the gap.
The province says there is a $300-million difference between the government’s latest offer and what teachers are demanding, while the union says government proposals refuse to recognize a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that deemed 2002 legislation stripping teachers’ rights to negotiate class size and composition was illegal.
There are no plans to resume bargaining, though both sides have indicated a willingness to meet again.
Premier Christy Clark posted a four-tweet blast on Sunday calling out the BCTF for refusing to shut down picket lines while bargaining continues, and claiming teachers are “demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received.”
Meanwhile, the twitter hashtag #bced is alive with opinions from parents, teachers and political junkies debating who is to blame and what should happen next.
Parents struggling to afford child care as the strike enters the 2014-15 school year can register with the province to receive a temporary support payment of $40 per day per student under 13 years old, though the offer has been criticized as a cynical tactic and the site itself experienced technical difficulties Sunday.
3. On the streets
Teachers were set to hold rallies in three cities Tuesday: In Victoria at the legislature at 9 a.m., in Vancouver at the school board offices at 4:30 p.m. and in Surrey at Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s constituency office at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, frustrated students were planning a rally of their own in Vancouver at 2 p.m., outside the downtown Vancouver Art Gallery.