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Canada: Some Provinces are Desperately Short of Teachers

Last week the shortage of teachers in some Canadian provinces made headlines when fears were raised that not enough teachers would be available for the start of the new school term.  Canada is now scrambling to fill vacancy and turning to migrants to meet their needs.

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British Columbia has been particularly hard struck with teacher shortages as districts across the province have more than 270 full-time teaching, administration and special education positions open.  Canada is in particular need of Early Childhood Education (pre-school), Secondary School (grade 9 to 12) and Special Needs (all grades) teachers.

The problem is severe in New Brunswick too. George Daley, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, said more teachers are needed across the province in coming years.  He added that the Brunswick school districts had to fill 175 openings — including five principal jobs — for the upcoming school year because more and more teachers are retiring. That doesn't include the additional 96 teaching jobs put into the collective agreement this year.

Specialty teachers seems to be the most difficult to come by.

“Learning support teachers, French immersion teachers, we always have postings for those available all throughout the year just because there aren’t that many of them and they’re difficult to find,” said Deneka Michaud, the North Vancouver district’s communications manager.

Daley expressed further concern that the number of teaching graduates entering the teaching profession is far less than those who are retiring or for new positions created to deal with student numbers.

"I don't believe we have adequate numbers coming out of the universities to fill those roles, we don't have any teachers."

Daley expects up to 200 teachers a year will retire over the next few years — a total of 1,000 teachers in five years.

The most demanding of those positions, are French immersion teachers.

"If you have a French immersion certification you can pretty well write your ticket and go anywhere in this country right now," he said.

There has been a shortage for a number of years in French immersion and "specialty areas," such as high school math and science, said Ken Frost, the education internship co-ordinator for Crandall University in Moncton

"But all of a sudden this shortage is in all areas of the curriculum."

The ongoing shortage has come in the wake of a 2017 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that ordered the province to reduce class sizes, and invest $550 million in operational costs to hire about 3,500 more teachers.

Meanwhile in Ottawa some school districts began a more aggressive hiring campaign this year after being struck with both an increase in retirements and a rise in school enrolments.

The number of teachers deciding to retire has grown from 121 during the 2015-2016school year to 170 during the 2017-2018 period reported the CBC

"Those have all combined to drive an increase in hiring," explained Mike Carson, the chief financial officer for the board, adding it's hiring more than a hundred teachers this year.

Prince Edward Island is experiencing growing staffing issues. According an article published on the CBC’s website there is a shortage of substitute teachers in the P.E.I province heading into the new school year.

President Bethany MacLeod of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation said it has been a problem in rural parts of the province in previous years, but now the problem is moving into urban areas as well.


About teaching in Canada

Canada's New Federal Skilled Worker Occupation List shows that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) indicated the need for teachers.  It is also expected that a new Federal Skilled Worker program will soon be open to educators, lecturers, professors and teaching assistants who are interested in immigrating to the country.

Teachers from Outside Canada are assessed based on:

  • their proven experience and education
  • their prospects for employment or having a pre-arranged job
  • where they would prefer to settle in Canada
  • their age
  • their knowledge of English and/or French
  • and the presence of relatives already in Canada.

Teachers coming to Canada and searching for employment in public schools must meet all the same basic requirements expected from qualified teachers moving within Canada. Teacher qualifications must be submitted to the teacher certification body in the province/territory of application. There are also additional requirements that specifically pertain to immigrants including evidence of landed immigrant status where the applicant is not a Canadian citizen. Another important requirement is proficiency in one of Canada's official languages - English or French.


Source: Vancouver Star, Canada Broadcasting Corporation and Canada Teachers’ Federation

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