Do B.C. teachers really need 15 days of sick leave per year that accumulate without a maximum?
The B.C. Teachers' Federation has many legitimate gripes with the B.C. Liberal government.
That's pretty clear when a B.C. Supreme Court judge weighs the evidence and concludes that the Christy Clark–led government wanted to provoke a strike.
It was also inexcusable for the former Gordon Campbell government—with Clark as education minister—to rip up an existing contract giving the union the right to negotiate class size and composition. That violated teachers' charter right to freedom of association.
The BCTF also scores a bull's-eye when it condemns the province for having the second worst per student funding in Canada.
But there's one aspect of teachers' contracts that taxpayers have good reason to question. And that's the sick-leave provisions.
As things stand now, teachers in the Vancouver school system are eligible for 1.5 days of sick leave per month.
In a 10-month school year, this means 15 sick days, which accumulate year after year without any maximum if the teacher doesn't use them.
It's a ridiculous provision that only reinforces inaccurate perceptions that teachers have it easy at work.
Good, committed teachers don't call in sick 150 days per decade unless they're suffering from a very serious chronic disease.
If the BCTF wants to generate some public goodwill, it should offer to give up some of the sick days or, at the very least, agree to a maximum accumulated sick days.
This way, boards of education won't have to spend as much money hiring substitutes for any malingerers who take more days off than they need.
I have a hunch that the best teachers in the public-school system wouldn't have a problem with that.
It might also free up a bit of money for boards of education to provide more services to students.