Sep 03, 2020

Federal funding for Safe Return to Class should be distributed by School Districts—CUPE BC

CUPE BC President Paul Faoro wrote the attached letter to Education Minister Rob Fleming yesterday recommending that the federal government’s new $242 million Safe Return to Class funding be distributed directly to school districts on a per-student basis as the most effective and efficient way to invest the funds. The letter also reminded the Minister that the federal government’s explicit conditions for the funding are “supporting adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.”

September 2, 2020

Via email: [email protected]

Honourable Rob Fleming
Minister of Education
Government of British Columbia

Dear Minister Fleming,

On behalf of the more than 30,000 CUPE members who work in British Columbia’s K-12 public schools, I’m writing with respect to the B.C. allocation of the federal government’s recently announced Safe Return to Class fund. As you know, B.C. will receive approximately $242 million to help ensure our schools re-open safely beginning next week.

In our view the best and most efficient way to disburse these funds is to allocate them on a per-student basis to school boards—with specific and explicit instructions on how those funds are to be invested in “supporting adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies,” as specified in the federal government’s announcement.

As you know, our K-12 members support the education of students in a wide range of ways. Returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought greater public awareness of this important work, from custodians ensuring schools are cleaned and sanitized, to bus drivers getting students to and from school safely, to support staff helping schools operate efficiently, to education assistants working directly with students to ensure their education is inclusive and supportive—and more. As a key partner in our education system CUPE BC continues to work with other education partners, including your Ministry, to make the return to school safe for all—students and staff alike. This additional investment will build on the strong work to date at the District level all across the province.

Again, CUPE BC strongly recommends that the federal government’s Safe Return to Class funds be distributed on a proportional basis via School Districts.


Paul Faoro
President, CUPE BC


cc:  Honourable John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia
      Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
      Andrew Wilkinson, Leader of the Official Opposition
      Dan Davies, Official Opposition Critic for Education
      Andrea Sinclair, President, BCCPAC

      Darren Danyluk, President, BCPVPA
      Chris van der Mark, President, BCSSA
      Stephanie Higginson, President, BCSTA
      Flavia Coughlan, President, BCASBO
      Tyrone McNeil, President, FNESC
      Thane Bonar, Director of Communications and Policy, FNESC
      Debbie Jeffrey, Executive Director, FNESC
      Ed Noot, President, FISA
      Colleen Hodgson, Director, Métis Nation BC

COPE 491