Mediator walks, dashing hopes of end to B.C. teachers' strike

Mediator exited talks because both sides were too far apart for mediation to begin

RICHMOND, B.C. — Veteran mediator Vince Ready has walked away from talks between British Columbia teachers and their employer, smothering hopes of parents that the school year would start on time.

Government negotiator Peter Cameron says Ready walked away because both sides were too far apart for mediation to begin, which means school will not start as usual on Tuesday.

Cameron says the current round of talks is now over and both sides will be waiting for Ready to determine when they are close enough to begin discussions again.

The development comes after Jim Iker of the teachers’ union and Cameron held several days of talks with Ready in a Metro Vancouver hotel.

Both sides were engaging in talks that were exploring the chance mediation, which many parents hoped would prevent the start of the school year from being derailed.

Prior to those discussions, Iker and Cameron met with Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who proposed that both parties put aside the most contentious issues and start mediation.

Public school teachers across the province went on strike two weeks before the start of summer vacation, booting half a million students out of class.

There was little progress during the summer regarding the main issues, which were class size, pay and the amount of support staff in each class.

The government has said it will not legislate teachers back to work.