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B.C. faces a crippling teacher shortage

“The teacher shortage is everywhere. There isn’t a district that has enough teachers teaching on call to fill their list for all absences that occur.”
Russell Leib Montreal, QC

The B.C. Teachers Federation has accused the provincial government of not doing nearly enough to ensure that the province has enough teachers to meet current demand.

City News 1130 reported that the president of the BCTF, Teri Mooring, said that there are now 400 teaching positions available on the federation’s website that have been left vacant “The teacher shortage is everywhere. There isn’t a district that has enough teachers teaching on call to fill their list for all absences that occur,” adding that this fall a teaching job for the second grade was posted that no one applied to.

“There was a time when a primary position that came up, especially a stray grade, would have been very, very sought after.” She cites that teacher’s low wages and the rapid inflation of B.C.’s cost of living have driven teachers away from the province.

B.C. has had a history of low wages according to Mooring. Shen went on to add that with the contemporary teacher shortage faced by North America, it has made it almost impossible for the B.C education system to compete for teachers.

“We lose teachers to other jurisdictions because they pay more.”

Despite cuts to Ontario’s education budget which has lead to unemployed teachers’, Mooring does not believe that they will move to B.C to fix the shortage “They’re going to be the second-lowest paid teachers nationally and the lowest-paid teachers of all the western provinces. They’re probably not going to come and take that significant pay cut.”

The shortage has been exacerbated by the majority of school districts seeing increased enrollment; except for Vancouver, whose rising cost of living has led to an exodus of families. To fix the shortage in Vancouver, the province has removed all but essential educational staff to fill classrooms with teachers. In the rural parts of the province, there are now hundreds of uncertified teachers who have been given letters of permission allowing them to teach to help fix the shortage.

In 2017, the Minister’s Task Force on Immediate Recruitment and Retention Challenges, made up of a variety of educational personnel released a report listing six recommendations to aid the shortage faced in 2017.

  • Establish a Province-Wide Recruitment and Retention Fund
  • Develop Regional Profiles and Recruitment Strategies
  • Increase Support and Capacity for School Districts’ Human Resources
  • Increase the Number of Graduates in Positions under Pressure
  • Promote Rural Practica Placements
  • Support Teacher Mentorship

The incumbent NDP government in an attempt to help the situation removed restrictions on post-secondary teacher training but did not enact the recommendations of the Task Force. Mooring criticized the NDP’s approach by saying that it will not solve the situation fast enough to solve the shortage.

Mooring has urged parents concerned with the teacher shortage to contact district administration, and to engage with their MLAs to encourage increased focus on new teacher recruitment.

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