Most still support BCTF, not provincial government in contract dispute: Poll

WITH the scheduled start of the school year less than a month away, a new Insights West survey has found that most British Columbians reacted negatively to the provincial government’s idea of giving money to parents if the teachers’ strike continues next month.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, three-in-four residents (73%) say they are following the current contract dispute between the Government of British Columbia and the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) “very closely” or “moderately closely.”

Almost half of British Columbians (49%) say they support the BCTF in the current contract dispute, while just over a third (38%) favour the provincial government. The results are practically unchanged since June, when Insights West conducted a similar survey.

The BCTF holds a higher level of public backing among British Columbians who have a child enrolled in public school (47%, compared to 37% for the provincial government) and among those who do not have a child in the school system (49% to 38%).

The Government of British Columbia has announced that parents will receive $40 per day per child under the age 13 if public schools are not open in September. The $40 per day will be paid by savings from the teachers’ strike.

Across the province, 37% of residents think the $40-a-day initiative is a “very good” or “good” idea, while a majority (52%) deems it “bad” or “very bad”.  British Columbians who have a child enrolled in public school are evenly split on the $40-a-day (47% think it is good, 46% consider it bad).

“The $40-a-day offer did little to sway the public into siding with the provincial government on the contract dispute with the BCTF,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West. “Some parents will certainly welcome the cash, if and when it is provided, but most residents do not regard the offer as a properly formulated initiative.”

Only one-in-four British Columbians (24%) are “very confident” or “moderately confident” that the contract dispute will be solved before the start of the school year, while 70% are “not too confident” or “not confident at all” in a resolution before then.

Seven-in-ten parents with a child in the public school system (71%) say they have made arrangements for their children to be properly cared for in case the schools are not open in September. More than half of these parents (56%) say the contract dispute has caused stress at work for them, and 41% are worried about the effect the contract dispute could have on their career.

Two-in-five residents who do not have a child in the public school system (40%) acknowledge that the contract dispute has affected them directly. More than a third of these non-parents (36%) say that some of their co-workers who are parents have to leave early or work less.

“Our research shows the contract dispute is affecting parents and non-parents alike, and causing stress for working families,” said Canseco. “In spite of all of these difficulties, British Columbians express little confidence in a resolution being reached before the start of the school year.”