B.C. students fear for university applications as strike cancels classes
Published Monday, September 1, 2014 3:30PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 1, 2014 5:17PM EDT
As students in most of Canada enjoy their last few moments of their summer break, students in British Columbia still don't know when they will be returning to the classroom.
The B.C. government and the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) are still very far apart on many issues and the two sides have no current plans for further negotiation to end the dispute that has been going on since the middle of June.
But while the two sides battle for public support, students say they feel like they are caught in the middle – and the students with arguably the most to lose are those entering Grade 12.
"I'm sure senior students have so many questions right now – whether we'll be qualified for university, whether we'll get our applications in on time," Grade 12 student and Vancouver School Board Student Trustee Jing Wang told CTV News Channel Monday. "I'm sure those questions linger in every senior student's mind right now."
If the strike lingers on for months it could have a disastrous effect on university applications, especially if students are hoping to go outside the province and will have to compete with students who have been in school for the entire year.
Embittered after a summer of no results, Wang and others are now taking matters into their own hands. They are organizing a Save Our Students rally to "show the BCTF and the BCPSEA that we are frustrated with the strike, and want a quick resolution," according to the website.
"Our focus is to raise awareness on the student perspective of the dispute," Wang said. "Student voice has been buried for so long and we really want to tell both parties that we're worried and we're frustrated that nothing is being solved at the moment. And it's really our education on the line."
Wang said students often feel left out of the loop and they want their voice back in the equation.
The rally will begin Tuesday at 2 p.m. outside the Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender confirmed Sunday classes will not begin Tuesday, affecting more than 40,000 teachers and half a million students. The government has promised parents $40 per day as a childcare subsidy for children 12 and under. However, parents trying to sign up for the subsidy online have encountered error messages. The money is also expected to be paid out after the strike ends.
Meanwhile, B.C. Premier Christy Clark sent out a series of tweets Sunday night blaming the BC Teachers' Federation for the impasse. The move drew sharp criticism from some.
1/4 Unfortunately, the BCTF rejected our offer to reopen schools while the two sides enter mediation to reach an agreement.— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) August 31, 2014
2/4 Instead, the BCTF is sticking to its strike and demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received.— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) August 31, 2014
3/4 That's not fair for the 150,000 dedicated women and men who have reached long-term agreements with affordable raises.— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) August 31, 2014
4/4 Class comp. is priority #1 -- more educators helping more students. BCTF or CUPE, it doesn't matter because students' needs come first.— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) August 31, 2014
BCTF President Jim Iker told CTV News the government isn't showing flexibility. The union is calling for better wages and smaller class sizes, but the government says it can't afford the demands.