British Columbians, Parents Siding with Teachers in Dispute

Residents want to reduce class sizes, but also think salary increases for teachers should be in line with what other unions are getting.

Vancouver, BC – British Columbians, and parents of kids enrolled in public schools, are more likely to express sympathy for the teachers in the province’s lingering education dispute, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, practically three-in-four residents (72%) are following the current contract negotiations involving the Government of British Columbia and the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) “very closely” or “moderately closely.”

British Columbians were provided with four pairs of contrasting statements related to the current dispute, and asked to select the points of view that were closest to their own.

When assessing the overall state of affairs, 42% of British Columbians think the BCTF is being reasonable, while 32% feel the same way about the BC Government. In addition, three-in-five residents (60%) believe that “class sizes in public schools need to be smaller”, while only 28% think “class sizes in public schools are OK at the current level.”

On two other issues, the public gravitates more towards the government’s position. More than half of residents (58%) think balancing the budget should take precedence over raising salaries for government workers (22%), and two thirds (65%) suggest that teachers should get the same salary increase as other unions in BC, while 16% think the teachers should get a higher raise.

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Across the province, more than a third of residents say they have been inconvenienced by the rotating strikes and school closures called by the BCTF (37%) and the partial lockout, which prevents activities before and after school, and during lunchtime, imposed by the BC Government (39%).

The situation is more dramatic for British Columbians who have a child at home who is currently enrolled in Grades 1 to 12. Among these residents, only 17% say they have not been inconvenienced at all by the rotating strikes and school closures, and just 14% say they have not been inconvenienced at all by the partial lockout.

“Most parents with children enrolled in public schools have emerged from the last two weeks with disappointment,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “At least a third of parents say the decisions taken by both the BCTF and the provincial government have presented a major difficulty in their households.”

Across the province, 40 per cent of residents say they were more sympathetic with the teachers and the BCTF at the start of the rotating strikes and lockout and remain there, while a significantly lower proportion (23%) began this dispute on the side of the provincial government and stay there.

However, there has been some movement in the past two weeks, with 17% of British Columbians stating that they are no longer as supportive of the teachers and the BCTF, and 4% saying they are no longer as sympathetic with the government.

“Parents who have children in public schools are decidedly supportive of the teachers and the BCTF, in spite of the inconvenience that the dispute has brought to their daily lives,” continues Canseco. “Only 14% of parents side with the government, while 43% remain sympathetic with the teachers and BCTF.”

This survey’s fieldwork was concluded before the announcement of a strike vote by the BCTF. One third of British Columbians (33%) said they would blame the BC Government if the current negotiations escalated into a full strike, while one-in-four (26%) would find the BCTF responsible. Around two-in-five residents (37%) believe both sides would be to blame if a full strike takes place.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has eleven full-time and five part-time employees.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 9 to June 10, 2014, among 713 British Columbians who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. YourInsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations for this study.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West
778-929-0490
mariocanseco@insightswest.com

 

Photograph: Nick & Shelien Hadfield