Parents, kids, and puppies came out to support teachers on strike at Muheim Memorial Elementary School in Smithers Tuesday.

Parents, kids, and puppies came out to support teachers on strike at Muheim Memorial Elementary School in Smithers Tuesday.

Strike talks stuck

The start of school is stalled for B.C. public students. Bulkley Valley and Coast Mountain districts ask parents to find child care

The mediator walked out on the mediation. Labour mediator Vince Ready saw no possible solution Saturday night with the provincial government and B.C. Teachers’ Federation positions too far apart.

There was no indication as to when talks might resume. That means a prolonged cancellation of classes is possible.

Education minister Peter Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark traded barbs with BCTF president Jim Iker as each tried making their case.

Iker released a statement that accused the province of refusing to budge a penny after the union representing public teachers gave up $125 million in its proposal.

“These two days should have been productive and brought the two sides closer together. Instead, the government put up new roadblocks and refused to compromise,” said Iker’s statement, which also called people to contact their MLAs.

The BCTF has also planned rallies at MLA offices, including a Tuesday rally at Fassbender’s office. School was supposed to start Tuesday.

Fassbender’s statement shortly after Ready left the two sides to their own devices was vague on when a solution might be possible.

“I wish I could tell British Columbians when students will be back in school. But right now, I don’t see any quick or easy solutions.

“Everything we’ve tried to do was to have schools open on time and to reach a settlement. Unfortunately, the BCTF leadership has stubbornly refused every effort to reach a fair deal and they have even refused to give teachers a chance to vote on suspending the pickets while an agreement is mediated,” said Fassbender.

Bulkley Valley and Coast Mountains school districts asked parents to not send children to schools with only administration staff not being sufficient for supervision.

A website has been set up by the province for parents to sign up and receive $40 per day for each student 12 years and under to help with childcare needs during the strike. The website says caregivers would be paid by cheque about 30 days after the month that the labour disruption ends. A child does not have to be enrolled at a daycare to be eligible. The website can be found at

The province said it would not legislate teachers back to work. The BCTF has not answered calls to work during negotiations.

“Instead, the BCTF is sticking to its strike and demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received,” said Clark on her Facebook page Sunday.

The sides are stuck on funding related to class sizes and composition, and wages.


Smithers Interior News