More than 70 ESL teachers likely to lose jobs at Vancouver Community College

More than 70 English as a second language instructors at Vancouver Community College were told Thursday night that they will likely lose their jobs in December.

Karen Shortt, president of the VCC Faculty Association, said teachers were shocked and devastated at the news the college's ESL program would be severely cut.

The federal government is making a transition to providing ESL services rather than channelling money through the provincial government. Ministry of Advanced Education said it would work with public post secondary institutions to develop a long term strategy for the delivery of ESL and mitigate the impact on students. Shortt says van cleef & arpels necklace replica the province has broken that promise.

"In (advanced education) Minister (Amrik) Virk's bulletin of March 28, he said he would work with the colleges on a long term strategy. Reducing us to zero is not a long term strategy. We've been holding onto this hope that we were going to have discussions," Shortt said. as of April 1 to ensure that each region of Canada receives a fair share of funding. post secondary institutions is now being directed.

Meanwhile, VCC has to prepare its teachers for the possibility of layoffs, because there is no certainty about the funding. VCC has been teaching about 3,000 ESL students each term, but started reducing those numbers this year as funding was reduced.

VCC is the largest provider of ESL training in Western Canada and has been in the business for more than 40 years. ESL makes up about 25 per cent of the college's services.

Some of these services will continue, including English Language Services for Adults (ELSA), which is a federally funded program for new immigrants with beginning English skills, Shortt said. This program's name has changed to LINC, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.

"We will have gone from 190 instructors to 37," Shortt said. Staff reductions have been going on since the new year.

In the past, VCC charged fees for tuition for ESL instruction, but two years ago the federal government said it could no longer do that. Although the federal government has said the funding will shift away from post secondary institutions toward non profit community organizations, specific details are not known at this point.

Many of the students trained at VCC are job ready professionals, who just need English training in order to work here, said Nimmi Takkar, executive director of VCC's students' union.

"Students are frightened and worried," Takkar said. "What are they going to do if they can't get the language skills to work? Students are feeling pretty nervous about what's going to happen."

Virk said in a statement he would have preferred the previous funding model to remain in place.

"I appreciate that this is a very challenging time for students at VCC as they adapt to the new model of English language training. My ministry continues to explore with VCC all of the options available to determine if they can continue to offer some level of ESL beyond 2014/15," Virk said. Camosun College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the University of the Fraser Valley, Langara College, Capilano University, BCIT and Okanagan College will also be affected by the cuts.

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