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Vancouver recruiters head east to find teachers willing to work in expensive housing market

Last Updated Feb 5, 2019 at 6:04 pm EDT

(iStock Photo)

High cost of housing in the region 'definitely a challenge' for recruiters looking for specialty teachers out east

School district staff at McGill, University of Ottawa to recruit French Immersion, Math, Physics, Special Ed teachers

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The search for specialty teachers in Vancouver is expanding east to Ontario and Quebec. More full-time jobs are being offered to anyone who can afford housing in this area.

School district staff are visiting career fairs this week at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Ottawa to recruit French Immersion, Math, Physics, Tech Studies and Special Education teachers.

Carmen Batista with the school board admits the high cost of housing across the Lower Mainland is a problem.

“Definitely a challenge that we have in the Metro area but even the surrounding areas — Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam — everyone … Not just the Vancouver School District, but I think all employers.”

“It is definitely a challenge,” she admitted.

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She says they are open to looking into different housing strategies.

Right now, she says up to 15 French Immersion contracts are available.

“This September, we had a qualified teacher in front of every classroom … We’ve had all of our absences filled with teachers. We’re quite pleased with that,” said Batista. “It’s really about having that on-call pool. People are starting to retire, we have people going on maternity leaves, we have university seconding — some of our exceptional teachers to work in their programs to be faculty associates — so there are always going to be vacancies in Vancouver and it’s really about making sure that we have those filled with qualified teachers.”

RELATED: Housing costs among reasons for teacher shortage in B.C.

Vancouver currently has 45 schools with 3,600 full-time and 800 on-call teachers educating more than 50,000 students.

Batista says the recruiters offer “continuing contracts” as incentives to come to Vancouver. “Knowing they have guaranteed employment, knowing that they will have benefits coming here. Trying to ask them to come here to be a teacher-on-call is not going to necessarily win them over. But offering a continuing contract in this beautiful city is something that is definitely a bonus.”

BC Teachers Federation president Glen Hansman says at least 350 vacancies across the province still need to be filled.

“Vancouver, Chilliwack, a whole bunch of other school districts over the past several weeks continue to go to Manitoba and Ontario and the Atlantic provinces trying to find new young teachers who are willing to move west of the Rockies.”

He adds housing affordability will be discussed during upcoming contract talks as both sides try to have a new deal in place by the end of the school year.