Provincial Advisory Bodies – Two Examples


#1. Teachers vote to leave premier’s failed Learning Round Table
BCTF News Release
March 16, 2009

After three years of meetings and no progress, the 700 elected delegates at the BCTF Annual General Meeting voted to leave the government’s failed Learning Round Table.

“The Learning Round Table has had 12 meetings since Premier Gordon Campbell first announced it, but after three years it has become nothing more than a public relations exercise,” said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger. “Teachers have been full participants in the Round Table, but after years of broken promises and government stalling, they are frustrated. There is no concrete plan or funding to reduce class sizes and improve support for children with special needs.”

At the last Round Table meeting in January, the data presented by the Minister of Education show 3,336 class-size violations with more than 30 students for the 2008–09 school year. That is up from 3,179 in 2007–08. There are also 10,985 class-composition violations this year. That means there are close to 11,000 classes with four or more students with special needs. That number is up from 10,313 in 2007–08. In 2005–06, when BC teachers first went on strike, there were 10,942 violations.

“Learning conditions in BC are worse today than they were before the 2005 strike,” said Lanzinger. “Representatives have gone to meeting after meeting, with no positive results. To stay at the table, teachers were looking see a concrete plan and new resources. Unfortunately, the provincial budget made it clear that there will not be enough funding to even cover basic costs.”

The latest BC Liberal budget, which ignored class-size concerns and support for children with special needs, will force school districts to make cuts. The small 1.26% increase to public education is less than inflation, and will not cover salary increases. In addition, 33 school districts in the province have had their budgets frozen. As a result, students, teachers, and parents should brace for more cuts when the 2009–10 school year begins, Lanzinger said.

Delegates at the BCTF AGM passed the following:

  1. That the Federation inform the government that it is withdrawing from the Learning Round Table because the government has failed to provide resources necessary to improve the teaching and learning conditions in BC classrooms.
  2. That the Federation communicate this decision and the reasons for it to trustees, parent committees, and the public in general.
  3. That the Federation continue to meet bilaterally with the minister of education as contained in the Ready recommendations to affect positive changes to class size and class composition.

#2. Provincial Child Care Council

The Child Care Council’s mandate is:

  • to provide advice and expertise on policies and programs which affect the affordability, quality, stability and accessibility of child care, and;
  • to represent the regional and sectoral interest of parents, children, caregivers and communities.

Members / Annual Reports

Related article

Child-care cash still on its way
Times Colonist (Victoria)
February 9, 2006
By: Jeff Rud

…. The rest of the $633-million, five-year deal reached by B.C. with the former federal Liberal government will be scrapped. Harper will instead implement the Conservative child care plan, providing families with $1,200 a year for every child under six starting July 1. …B.C. Minister of State for Child Care Linda Reid seemed pleased the province will get second-year funding. “In the campaign, [Harper] wasn’t honouring any part of the agreement,” she said. “In basically a few short days we’re up to Year 2. I think we’re doing fine.”

Not everybody agrees. NDP Leader Carole James said Premier Gordon Campbell hasn’t done enough to pressure Harper into honouring the five-year commitment.

The vice-chairwoman of B.C.’s Provincial Child Care Council has also resigned over the province’s lack of fight for the program. Heather Northrup, appointed to the council by both NDP and Liberal governments, said other premiers publicly pressured Harper to live up to the five-year deal.

“I was quite discouraged when I didn’t hear British Columbia as one of those voices,” Northrup said. “Having worked so hard on the Provincial Child Care Council and seeing the B.C. and Canadian governments sign an agreement last September, providing B.C.’s families with $633 million, I couldn’t reconcile the two. And at the end of the day I needed to resign.”

Reid dismissed the resignation, saying Northrup’s term was almost up anyway. …James said Campbell didn’t show appropriate leadership on the issue.

“We should have heard him speaking out last week to say child care was a priority. We certainly should have heard him making statements after the prime minister announced on the day he was sworn in that he was cancelling the agreement. All children and families got from this premier was silence.”

The five-year deal would have been a great start at creating a long-term sustainable child care system, Northrup said. In Vancouver, she said some day-care centres have waiting lists of 1,500 children.

The promised $1,200 a year to parents from Harper won’t go far, Northrup said, when day care rates for toddlers can hit $1,100 a month.