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1-in-3 Vancouver teachers considering quitting: unions

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Unions for teachers and other workers within the Vancouver school system are sounding the alarm about low morale.

They're sharing the findings of a survey, which shows one-in-three teachers polled say they have plans to leave the profession within five years.

"Members are feeling increasingly that they’re being asked to do more with less," Jody Polukoshko, the president of the Vancouver Elementary and Adult Educators’ Society told CTV News on Thursday.

"What they’re finding is that there are increasing needs and complexities in their classroom, and we really, really want to be doing the best we can to serve all of our students, but we’re finding it increasingly difficult."

An area of particular concern is what these teachers say is a lack of appropriate support for students with special needs.

"We want to make sure they’re learning in an equitable fashion and we’re not able to do that," Polukoshko added. "When the tasks and the demands are increased, that’s when we start feeling awful in our jobs."

In response, the Vancouver School Board shared data indicating it hasn’t seen a spike or trend of resignations in recent years, saying it has 3,100 teachers on the payroll.

The year with the most resignations in the last half-decade was 2018/19, which saw 128 teachers quit in the district.

That number then fell to 73 the following year – and 74 walked away from the job last school year.

The VSB also shared hiring data – noting it has hired 431 teachers, 181 school/student support workers, 74 supervision aides and 57 custodians since May 2023.

In a statement sent to CTV News Vancouver, Minister of Education and Child Care Rachna Singh said teachers "need working environments that support them to do their best."

"While our full-time teaching and support staff workforce totals over 56,000 in B.C., the tight labour market is challenging us all," the statement said. "My ministry is actively working to support school districts in their recruitment efforts and we're engaging with our education partners to develop a province-wide workforce plan to recruit, train, hire, and retain more K to 12 staff."

Singh's statement also pointed to mental health strategies that focus on adult well-being in schools, as well as enhanced mental health benefits and coverage for teachers.

The survey and the school board’s response come as the existing collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in just over a year. 

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