British Columbians prefer arbitration, not legislation, to end education dispute: poll

British Columbians say BCTF has done more to end impasse than government


AS the contract dispute involving the Government of British Columbia and the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) continues, residents are expressing a preference to reach a settlement through binding arbitration, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 62% of British Columbians (and 61% of those who have children enrolled in a public school) think the contract dispute should be sent to binding arbitration immediately. Only 28% of British Columbians (and 31% of parents) disagree with this proposed course of action.

When asked whether the BC Government should introduce legislation to impose a contract on the BCTF, a majority of residents (57%) and parents (53%) disagree with this idea.

“At this point, the notion of allowing an arbitrator to rule on the dispute is more appealing to British Columbians than legislating the teachers back to work,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Even half of the residents who voted for the BC Liberals in 2013 do not believe that legislation is a good option.”

The BCTF continues to hold the support of a larger proportion of British Columbians in this contract dispute (49% among both residents and parents) than the provincial government (38% among all residents, and 41% among parents).

When asked which side has done more to end the deadlock, almost half of residents (48%) choose the BCTF while just one-in-five (21%) select the government. Four-in-five British Columbians (83%) are following the contract dispute “very closely” or “moderately closely”—an 11-point increase since the first Insights West survey on this subject conducted in early June.


A large proportion of British Columbians (57%, and 53% of parents) disagree with the notion that the only way to give teachers the raise they want is to have higher taxes. An equally high proportion (57%, and 56% of parents) would not be willing to pay higher taxes to ensure that schools are open.

Three-in-five British Columbians (64%, along with 69% of parents) believe class sizes in BC’s public schools should be smaller, while 60% of all residents (and 62% of parents) think a balanced budget is more important than raising the salaries of government workers.

British Columbians were also asked which emotions they would use to describe the two sides in the contract dispute. The emotions used more often for the provincial government are disgust (45%), anger (36%), shame (34%) and sadness (30%). The emotions used more often for the BCTF are disgust (32%), sadness (also 32%), anger (30%) and shame (23%).


How Parents and Non-Parents Are Coping


MORE than half of parents with a child in the public school system (58%) say the contract dispute has caused stress at work for them, and 37% are worried about the effect it could have on their career. In addition, more than one third of parents have seriously considered either home-school (36%) or private school (37%) for their child.

While 54% of parents have signed up to receive $40-per-day per child under the age of 13 from the government, while public schools are not open, two-thirds (66%) say this money is not enough to cover the real cost of their child (or children) not being able to go to school.

More than half of residents who do not have a child in the public school system (52%) say that the contract dispute has affected them directly (+12 since the first time Insights West asked this question in August). In addition, 43% of these non-parents (+7) claim that some of their co-workers who are parents have to leave early or work less.