‘He needs to step in and step up’: Students affected by the Saanich strike call for BC education minister to intervene

WatchIt's now week three in the battle between school support staff in Saanich and their employer. Leaving students to spend more and more time out of their classrooms. Today, Grade 12's with graduation top of mind, voiced their anxieties. Kori Sidaway has the story.


At 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, teenagers should be in a classroom. Instead, Saanich students are begging to be there.

“We need to go back, it’s more than just a contract, it’s our futures ahead of us too,” said Maxwell Tidman, a Grade 12 student who has dreams of studying economics next year.

And the dozens of students demonstrating today, are just a cross-section of the thousands who have been forced out of their classrooms for three weeks now as support workers in their district strike for comparable wages.

Today, the students are asking Education Minister Rob Fleming to intervene and put an end to the strike.

“I’m hoping Minister Fleming will step in and help us get back in the classroom,” said Faith Brown, Grade 12 student at Saanich’s Stelly’s Secondary School.

“Right now he’s choosing not to help us. He needs to step in and step up.”

Things are particularly anxious with the Grade 12’s of the group, who have graduation, scholarships, and early applications on the line.

“It’s Grade 12, it’s stressful enough as it is graduating and missing out on the things that other school districts are there for, it’s definitely taking a toll,” said Tidman.

But those at the Saanich School District says they won’t let any student fall through the cracks.

“No child will be affected by this strike that would prevent them from progressing in their grades or graduation,” said Dave Eberwein, Saanich School District Superintendent.

“The system is able to adapt to the lost instructional time and we’ll make sure students get what they need.”

More information for students regarding graduation, scholarships, and early applications are now on the District’s website, with more specific information on the individual school’s websites.

But students remain concerned, especially seeing as there seems to be no end in sight to the strike.

“If my family has a problem we sit down to talk about it,” said Grade 12 student Grace Warren who has goals of studying sciences at university next fall.

“If we’re not sitting at the table, I don’t know how we’re going to get there.”

Negotiations have crumbled, but a deal still remains on the table.

“We are certainly willing and able to get back to the bargaining table to hammer this thing out within the mandate, but we wanted to reaffirm to people that there are aspects of it that do disappear after November 30th and that’s outside of district control.”

The Saanich School District says on that date, $96,000 in funding will disappear from the pot, so the countdown to come back to the table is on.

And the students, whose future is held in their hands, is hoping that happens, sooner than later.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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