A group representing local teachers walks up 5th Street in Courtenay Thursday afternoon to draw attention to their concerns over the current bargaining process with the Province. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Teachers protest to get Courtenay-Comox MLA’s attention

Representatives concerned about class size and composition issues

A group of a dozen or so representing local teachers held signs and banged pots and pans outside the Courtenay office of Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard Thursday afternoon to try to get her attention.

The office was closed, though their point was to draw attention to a lack of progress on a new contract with the Province.

“This is us just trying to say to our MLA that we don’t feel like we’ve been heard,” says Sherry Dittrick, the new president of the Comox District Teachers’ Association. “Many teachers have tried to contact our MLA and haven’t gotten anywhere. There hasn’t been any real response from emails or from phone calls.”

Teachers are concerned about the absence of a contract with the province and the possibility that class size and composition might be changing, particularly that class sizes could increase, but they have not been able to express this to the local MLA though, says Dittrick.

She and vice-president Karla Neufer were able to meet with Scott Fraser, Leonard’s colleague and MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, on Friday, Sept. 13 for 40 minutes in Port Alberni to talk about their concerns.

“We actually had a really nice discussion,” she says. “I think he got the message about why we are very distressed…. This really shouldn’t still be going on.”

Teachers have also been handing out pamphlets to the public to explain what they are asking for concerning improvements to teaching and learning conditions as well as salaries.

RELATED STORY: School returns in B.C. with uncertainty surrounding contract for teachers

Negotiations have been paused since Aug. 30 for a few weeks as the mediator meets with both the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), which bargains on behalf of school boards in the province.

Language around class size and composition was at the centre of a dispute between the Province and teachers that culminated in a Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2016 that restored provisions for class size and composition. The latest deal with teachers expired in June.

On Friday, Leonard responded to a Record request for comment.

“I want to thank teachers in the Comox Valley for all their amazing, hard work. Our children’s education is in very good hands,” she said via email. “I also want to say our government is devoted to strengthening our public education system and supporting our kids and teachers.

“I had a very good meeting with both the outgoing and current president of the Comox Valley Teachers Association earlier this year to hear their concerns. I’ve also met with the BCTF this summer through two Legislature Standing Committees that I sit on. Due to my previous commitment as the host for an all-day community meeting on agriculture, I was not able to speak with teachers who dropped by my constituency office Thursday.

“I am not part of a bargaining committee, but very much respect the bargaining process and look forward to an agreement being signed.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The group representing teachers set up outside MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard’s office in Courtenay. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Just Posted

Comox Valley playgrounds, outdoor fitness stations now open

School District 71 and Comox Valley local governments have reopened outdoor playgrounds… Continue reading

City of Courtenay outlines changes to property tax payment options due to COVID-19

Courtenay property tax notices were mailed on May 27-28, and will be… Continue reading

Comox Museum exhibits available for online viewing

Visit all the Comox Museum exhibits from your home, on its website

Classes in Comox Valley to look a little different in June

School district senior staff has been busy prepping for re-opening

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

NIC leads province in transition to online biology labs

North Island College (NIC) biology faculty are among the first in the… Continue reading

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read