Burnaby teachers and their supporters rallied outside of Richard Lee's Burnaby North office on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to put pressure on the provincial government to opt for a negotiated settlement to the ongoing labour dispute.
A couple of dozen people lined Willingdon Avenue, waving placards and eliciting honks from supportive drivers.
"We are hoping to get a negotiated collective agreement - before it gets imposed or legislated in the summer time," said James Sanyshyn, incoming president of the Burnaby Teachers' Association. "It's our last chance to bring our issues back to the forefront."
In March, the provincial government passed Bill 22 in response to the labour dispute, which started in September.
The bill prohibits teachers from striking, imposes a "cooling off" period and appoints a mediator to facilitate the bargaining process without imposing any new costs to the government - meaning no pay increase for teachers.
If the two parties can't reach an agreement by summer, the mediator, Charles Jago, will issue a report by June 30 with non-binding recommendations.
The Burnaby Teachers' Association and the B.C. Teachers' Federation have been calling for a negotiated settlement, instead.
Jennifer Heighton, a teacher at Burnaby's Nelson Elementary, said she came out to make a statement to the government and the public that teachers care about public education.
"We are worried about all of the recent action by the government that will dismantle this system," she said. "Over the summer, the government is looking to impose a contract on us, and teachers really want them to think how this will affect all the children in B.C."
Heighton also had concerns that Bill 22 was taking away limits on class size and the number of special needs children in each class.
"That means all kids get less attention," she said.