News / Vancouver

Vancouver Community College ESL teachers expect layoffs

Teachers will lose their jobs due to a funding shortage for Vancouver Community College’s ESL program, the faculty union announced Wednesday.

Even though the program has waiting lists and full classes, VCC’s faculty association fears 15 to 25 jobs will be lost by the end of March due to federal government changes to ESL training, chief steward Frank Cosco said.

“People are tremendously worried and concerned,” Cosco said, noting there are about 120 full-time ESL teachers at VCC. “A year from now, we might be talking about the end of the whole program completely.”

Instead of training new immigrants to speak English at colleges, the government will directly administer programs through community services.

The province has already provided one-time funding of $4.67 million so VCC can keep running ESL classes past April 1, but the faculty association believes it should fill the funding gap to maintain the busy program. It needs about $3.3 million extra.

VCC confirmed in an emailed statement it has offered faculty buyouts in light of the changes, but doesn’t know what the full impact will be.

“We have begun consulting with our unions to explore options that will minimize the impact to our faculty, staff, and students.”

VCC also hopes the province will fork over more cash.

“We understand that the Ministry continues to pursue other sources of one-time funding to support the transition of ESL services and they hope to report more information soon.”

But in an emailed statement Wednesday, Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk did not indicate the province would offer more than the one-time $10.5 million it gave to colleges across B.C. in February.

“Our focus remains on the students, and like those students, the post-secondary institutions, and their faculties and staff, we are still waiting to hear from the federal government how it plans to go forward,” Virk said.

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