B.C. schools cracking down on maternity leave

New plan violates human rights, union says

A B.C. school district’s plan to refuse work to pregnant teachers is a human rights violation, according to the union.

Concerned about revolving door classrooms, the Greater Victoria School District recently announced its plan to refuse a temporary contract to anyone who would not be available for at least half of its length.

According to the school district, substitute teachers who were accepting temporary contracts and then going on maternity leave set the district back an additional $250,000 per year. Of further concern is establishing a consistent, non-disruptive classroom environment for students.

But the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA) knocked the policy, calling it an attack on both women’s and human rights.

Although the contracts usually last less than one year, the GVTA argued the teachers who fill those jobs are anything but temporary – as contract work is typically awarded based on aggregate length of service.

“Is this fair? Clearly not. Each of these teachers has the same level of service with the district. They are equally committed to their profession and their employer and the children they teach. But they are treated differently on the basis of family status and on the basis of sex,” the GVTA said. “This is the definition of discrimination in the Charter of Rights and the B.C. Human Rights Code.”

The teachers’ association has circulated a petition calling for equal access to work – with just over 1,000 signatures to date.

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