VICTORIA – New Democrat education spokesperson Rob Fleming released the following statement on the breakdown of talks in the education dispute:
“With just two days left before the start of school, it is clear Education Minister Peter Fassbender has utterly failed kids and families in B.C. Either he should admit he is not up to the task and step down, or Premier Clark should remove him.
“The Minister has delayed and obstructed talks with teachers all summer. Despite saying repeatedly the government is willing to be at the bargaining table 24/7, instead he squandered the entire summer, making no progress, denying mediation would work, making no moves to improve classroom conditions, and refusing to come to the table this week ready to get a deal.
“There has been no indication Minister Fassbender is prepared to negotiate sincerely on critical classroom issues. His lead negotiator admits the government refuses to negotiate on class size and composition – an issue that parents know affects all our children’s ability to be successful in school – until teachers give in to the government’s position on wages and benefits. This approach fails to acknowledge that for mediation to be successful, everything has to be on the table.
“Instead of putting real effort towards reaching a deal to get our kids back in classrooms, Minister Fassbender has put his efforts towards deploying a cynical plan to spend tax dollars intended for the classroom to buy off parents with a cheque for $40 a day while the impasse continues. Minister Fassbender has badly misread the situation, and has only hurt the chances of resolving the dispute.
“Like hundreds of thousands of other B.C. parents with kids in the public school system, my family should be spending this last weekend of summer getting ready for the first day of school. Minister Fassbender’s failure means instead that parents are scrambling to figure out what to do, and are frustrated and worried about their children’s future. Clearly he is not capable of overseeing B.C.’s education system.”