03/26/2015 05:56 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT

Bill 11 Introduced To Standardize B.C. Teachers' Professional Development

It's time to put teachers on a similar footing as lawyers, accountants, and nurses, said the education minister.

BC Gov Flickr

VANCOUVER - Plans by B.C.'s government to create detailed standards for the professional development of teachers are being met with resistance by union leadership.

Bill 11, the Education Statutes Amendment Act, was introduced by the Ministry of Education in Victoria on Thursday.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said it's time to put teachers on a similar footing as lawyers, accountants and nurses, professionals with detailed standards for ongoing learning.

He called the bill "enabling legislation," and said talks can now take place with the B.C. Teachers' Federation to develop similar standards.

"Teachers work very hard. They do a lot of good work," he said.

"But what is clear ... (is) international research has shown us the quality of professional development directly translates to the job satisfaction and the ability of teachers to be successful and for their students to be successful."

Jim Iker, president of B.C. Teachers' Federation, said the government didn't consult members on the bill, which he called a diversion from underfunding.

"What we should have been getting is an announcement that the government is not going to expect school districts to have to cut another $29 million," he said. "We should have been expecting today that the government would reinstate adult education programs for free in the K-12 system."

Although Iker said professional development shouldn't be mandated from the top down, he noted there is an upside to the announcement.

Iker said the ministry informed the union earlier in the day that the federation will be involved in "deep consultation" over the next two years.

The bill would also give school boards the authority to negotiate deals with other public-sector agencies to cut costs on shared services.

Separate amendments address the accountability of school districts and would bring the School Act into line with freedom of information and privacy laws.

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