03/18/2013 10:03 EDT | Updated 05/18/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. Teachers Union Elects New President

The newly-elected president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation says the province's schools are in need of more librarians, counsellors and special needs teachers.

Jim Iker was elected president of the BCTF on Monday night, replacing Susan Lambert who is retiring at the end of the school year.

"We've been facing a decade of cuts to public education," Iker said Monday. "We're looking for a plan of how we can get more resources put back into our schools that supports our students' needs."

Iker, a Burns Lake resident, will take power on July 1. He says he is committed to securing a negotiated settlement between the BCTF and the B.C. government.

Earlier on Monday, hundreds of teachers marched through the streets of Vancouver calling for the province to increase spending on public education.

The teachers stopped in front of Premier Christy Clark's office at Canada Place. Lambert, the outgoing BCTF president, was at the rally and said public education should be a top priority for any government.

"Whatever government is in power, we'll be advocating for public education in a non-partisan way," she said Monday.

Lambert has been a harsh critic of the B.C. Liberal party since her term as union president began three years ago.

"An engaged and educated citizen is one that is more productive, has less need to rely on social services and so on, so it’s a prudent financial investment."

Lambert said the upcoming provincial election in May is a critical time for teachers.

"Our job is to challenge the NDP, possibly our next provincial government, to commit to increase spending on public education even if that means increasing taxes," Lambert said at the union's annual meeting Saturday.

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