Public school openings have been delayed across British Columbia due to breakdown in the mediation process between the Education Ministry and the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF), which is currently on strike. Negotiations had been going on around the clock, but completely broke down when mediator Vince Ready simply walked out of the proceedings.
Ready had no immediate comment on his departure from the mediation process, but the main issue all along has been budgets. The Education Ministry has reported a $300 million gap between what the teachers want and what the government is prepared to offer.
The BCTF countered by announcing that during the most recent mediation talks, it had reduced its demands by $125 million already, demonstrating good faith. The BCTF also pointed out that other public sectors unions, such as the BC Public School Employers Association, did not make any concessions at all, and accused the government of trying to fix past mistakes at their expense.
The BCTF called on the Prime Minister to step in and exert influence over the proceedings to try and spur an agreement. There were also calls for Education Minister Peter Fassbender to resign for his failure to guide the negotiation effectively, especially now that the emergency weekend negotiations failed to open school as scheduled on September 2, leaving thousands of students with no clear route to resuming their education as neither side seems eager to resume the mediation. It’s also unclear if Vince Ready will continue as lead mediator or be replaced.