Just when the province's political climate couldn't seem more dire and unsteady for Ontario teachers, a glimmer of hope emerges from Canada's west coast. British Columbia's Education Minister now welcomes Ontario teachers, especially those whose employment remains uncertain in the aftermath of Ontario Premier Doug Ford's proposed education cuts.
Last week, a memo from Ontario's Ministry of Education revealed the province's plans to reduce education costs by $851 million over the next four years by getting rid of 3,475 full-time teaching positions. Additionally, the ministry announced that up to 1,000 Toronto high school teaching positions are now classified as "surplus."
BC Education Minister Rob Fleming told reporters, "Anyone from Ontario who finds themselves looking at a B.C. school district that might be hiring today is more than welcome."
British Columbia has been in desperate need of teachers since encountering teaching supply shortages. The BC Teachers' Federation has noted that 300 teachers are still needed across the province to restore class sizes to 2002 levels.
According to Fleming, BC invested in recruitment in Ontario last year, and as a result, recorded 85 percent more applications from Ontario teachers compared to seven or eight years prior.
"We’ve been in Ontario already for the last couple of years. I note that 10 districts — both urban, suburban, rural, large and small districts — will be at a teaching job fair in Ontario at the end of this month," Fleming tells Global News.
"Obviously, we’re going in a vastly different direction than Ontario is; we’re reducing class sizes here."
On Saturday, busloads of teachers from around Ontario joined in protest against Ford's education cuts at Queen's Park. The "Rally for Education" was intended to stand up for students' need for smaller class sizes to provide individualized attention and care, and speak out against job cuts.