Letter: Teachers’ commitment exaggerated

Dear Editor,

Natasha Viens [Teachers subsidizing classrooms, July 2 Letters, Langley Advance] writes, “As for the generous benefits and pensions, teachers pay for that, too. In fact, teachers pay handsomely (a lot) for their benefits and pension.”

I’ll respond with information from the BCTF website about her benefits: 75 per cent of her BC Medical Services Plan, 80 per cent of her Extended Health Benefits Plan, 80 per cent of her Group Life plan, and 75 per cent of her Dental Plan are paid for by taxpayers.

Also, the BCTF pension fund is $19.8 billion, and I think that taxpayers have been a large and generous contributor.

Benefits add about $18,000 to the average B.C. teacher salary. If she would like to pay less to these high-level benefits, I suggest that she and her colleagues drop or trim the deluxe benefits included in those plans.

In fact, the taxpayers “pay handsomely (a lot).”

She wrote, “Teachers are paid for only 10 months a year, so the two months of summer are taken unpaid, unlike most of the population that works 12 months/year and have their vacations paid for.”

She is mixing apples and oranges. It’s true, most of the population works 12 months, but they are governed by provincial labour regulations. Teachers work under a contract for 189 working days, nine hours long, and are paid according to contract terms.

She mentions, “Teachers pay out of pocket to subsidize their classrooms.”

Thanks.

Is she overlooking that parents pay out of pocket, too, that PAC groups raise funds and give time to assist her, that some teachers solicit donations from businesses, that when she was in school her teacher paid for some stickers and things, and that parents take time off to assist with field trips, sports days, and the like.

My teachers and parents did the same when I was in school in the 1960s. The situation was the same when my kids were in school in the 80s/90s.

Sport coaches, music teachers, tutors, and others who help kids outside of school hours also pay out of pocket for supplies, etc. Many workers pay out of pocket for things that are job-related.

Various blogs, letters to editors, and radio call-ins by teachers mention wage concerns. Here is some of the information I have found: the BCTF site has a blog showing a 2005 average B.C. teacher salary of $60,524.

From other sources I find that the average 2013 wage in Canada is $48,250 and the average 2013 B.C. teacher salary is $71,340 (averaged from three sources of information), thus the average B.C. teacher is paid 48 per cent more than an average Canadian worker.

B.C. has the lowest provincial income tax rates for a $71,340 income in Canada.

Name withheld, Langley

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