Thursday, April 29, 2021

Prince Rupert District Teachers Union raises concerns over budget uncertainty and potential for layoffs

With School Districts across the province facing any number of challenges related to COVID and local funding issues towards education, the atmosphere in many communities including Prince Rupert is making for uncertainty as School Budgets are being prepared. 

Today the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union made note of their concerns over the pace of SD52 budget decision making and the potential for possible layoffs to instructional staff.

In a news release issued this morning the PRDTU's Gabriel Bureau observed that School District Managers have told teachers to prepare for as many as twenty laid off teaching positions for next school year, with the PRDTU stating that would make for as much as a 12 per cent decrease in teaching staff for Prince Rupert Schools.

Among the concerns that the PRDTU have are:

The delayed budget process is causing uncertainty for teachers, which may undermine retention and lead to instructional staff shortages next year. 

Warnings of massive layoffs from SD52 management are confusing staff, leading to further uncertainty and undermining confidence in the process. 

Given that there are no major changes in the provincial funding formula for schools and SD52 enrolment trends will likely remain unchanged from recent years, there doesn’t seem to be a need for major cuts.  

If the warnings, and possible cuts, are not required, then the school district should limit damage to its retention efforts by reassuring teachers that massive layoffs are unlikely

Mr. Bureau has outlined how many of the recent hires have started to take up residence in the community and how any layoffs may have an impact on future recruitment goals for the District.

“Many new teachers, hired in the last two to three years, have already started to put down roots into Prince Rupert. News of possible layoffs leaves these teachers uncertain of where they’ll be next year. 

This is especially challenging for families with young children, new residents who recently bought a home in town, and for members who had planned to stay and settle here ... 

In the past several years, the school district has made good progress on recruiting teachers who plan to stay long-term. Prince Rupert offered new hires with a unique and innovative solution. 

The solution meant that teachers were hired without a specific assignment and the would be slotted into needed positions as they opened up during the year. 

This has solved lots of problems for the district and allowed more teachers to settle down with more job security. 

These rumoured cuts undermine that security and may mean that many teachers will leave town, even if the cuts proveunnecessary in the end."

The PRDTU is concerned that if the warned layoffs are not actually needed, given that the funding formula and enrolment trends appear stable for next year, that the laid off teachers will leave for good. 

Noting how that will undermine progress made in recent years to recruit and retain certified teachers, provide support teachers for students with individual learning needs, and have teachers to fill long-term leaves throughout the year.

“New teachers, who are working as teachers on call or filling long-term leaves, are actually in short supply at this point in the school year because of the need to fill positions. If these teachers are laid off, only to be needed back in the fall, SD52 may end up with a shortage and not have enough certified teachers. 

In year’s past, this was a major problem. Student support teachers and teachers on call are essential to instructional continuity. Hopefully the school district won’t underestimate its need for certified teachers for next year. Otherwise, the district may find out that once again they are facing shortages – when it’s too late to attract new teachers back,” -- PRDTU President Gabriel Bureau

An information release from SD52 on April 13 on Budget issues

So far there has been no public indication from School District officials towards whether any staff cuts will be required, or put in place as they look to address their significant budget deficit of between 2.3 to 3.4 million dollars. 

However the District has noted that almost 88 percent of their expenditures is from labour costs.


Some of the information slides from the SD52 budget 
presentation from the end of March

The most recent notes on the Budget process from mid April indicated that staff would be providing an update list of potential budget cuts to the May 11th Board meeting.

You can learn more about the 2021 budget process and potential impact on education in the region from our archive page here.


  1. As a taxpayer I am appalled at the budget deficit why are we only hearing about this now. I would hope that the board asks for a foresenic audit, I question also why the labour costs are so high, are we paying for dismissed management still>

  2. 87.9% Labour related costs, how about peeling that onion?

    One break glass option that could insulate against staffing reductions is it to identify and sell off existing land assets. Kanata, Seal Cove, Westview and the Booth Maintenance shop are prime candidates.