The Abbotsford School District hopes the city can be a safety net for Ontario teachers, as that province prepares to cut thousands of teaching positions.
The CBC recently obtained an internal memo that outlined a plan by the Ontario government to slash 1,500 teaching positions next school year and nearly 3,500 by 2022/23. ASD superintendent Kevin Godden said he’s sorry for the teachers who now live in uncertainty of their job security.
And he added that the district is there for teachers in need of a position.
“I feel badly about that and the changes that are materializing there, be they financial or educational. But we have a pretty robust recruitment strategy that involves Ontario and Quebec,” Godden said.
“I’m hoping that now we would get some better fruit out of this … They’re saying that it’s going to happen through attrition; I think people sometimes lose confidence. And if they think that they’re not getting an opportunity to get a job, I want to let them know that there are opportunities here.”
Despite B.C.’s esthetic advantage, a high cost of living, particularly in the Lower Mainland, has left the province with a teacher shortage. That has only been exacerbated as the province attempts to catch up to needed teacher counts through a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that restored 2001 language on class size in the collective agreement.
With so many teachers expected to be laid off in Ontario, that could mean a rush of education administrators on recruiting missions to the province.
“I’ll be cautiously optimistic that those trips (to Ontario) will be more successful this time around,” Godden said.
In particular, Ontario has a larger Francophone community, which could help ease the pressure on ASD’s tight French immersion roster of teachers.
Godden says the school district, and the province as a whole, will still face challenges with its cost of living, but he added that they could potentially be doing more to market the province’s natural beauty and fair weather.
“There are things that we want to be able to do to celebrate and sell the Fraser Valley for these young teachers, and I think we can do a better job with that,” Godden said.
“At least, I think we might get a more receptive audience as a consequence of some of those announcements.”