Clint Johnston of Chilliwack was acclaimed Tuesday as president-elect of the BC Teachers’ Federation.
He comes to the job with ample experience having served six years as vice-president of the BCTF executive, and president of the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association from 2012 to 2014. He is also vice-president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
Negotiating higher salaries will be the priority as he heads into collective bargaining as the union’s lead negotiator.
“The reality is that B.C. is one of the most expensive jurisdictions in Canada to live in,” Johnston said.
That means that teacher salaries have actually gone backwards.
“If the pay is not keeping up with inflation, it’s actually a decrease,” Johnston said.
His fondest hope?
“That we get a decent contract for our members,” he replied.
Ensuring the workload is manageable and doesn’t burn people out is important to tackle the critical teacher shortage, which disproportionately affects students with diverse learning needs.
“I would love to see that addressed properly, so that it was no longer a topic,” he said.
Two years of struggling through a pandemic made clear just how much teachers accomplish, and how valuable and necessary that work is to society, he said.
“So it’s up to the government and the employer to make teaching a profession that balances out the needs of employees, with those of the employer, to attract those willing to come here from other jurisdictions,” he said.
He first turned to a career in education after losing a hand in a devastating workplace accident at 23. He has bachelor’s degrees in human kinetics and education from the University of British Columbia, and taught as an elementary teacher.
Growing up in Chilliwack in the 1970s, Johnston said the atmosphere was “conservative and monochromatic.”
There were systemic issues and discrimination.
“But I have had the opportunity to learn and to grow,” Johnston said. “What my education gave me was the understanding that everyone has the capacity to learn and grow, as well as a desire to change things and to work to include everyone.”
The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association offered congratulations to Johnston in a tweet.
“His strong stances on Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ rights and justice, and his belief that an inclusive union is a stronger union are traits that will serve him well in this role,” the CTA tweet said.
“Congratulations Clint. We look forward to having you back in an in-person meeting!”
Increasing representation of Indigenous teachers is definitely on his radar, as well as fostering inclusion of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
“I’ll be blunt – it’s essential to our workforce,” Johnston said.
Congratulations to former @chwkteachers President @ClintJohnston7 on being elected as President of the BCTF. Clint was the President of the CTA from 2012-14 and oversaw significant changes to our education system. He will be the first BCTF President from our Local. #bced 1/2 https://t.co/uFWFvZNBs6— Chilliwack Teachers' Association (@chwkteachers) March 22, 2022
Johnston elected by the 49,000-member federation at its 2022 Annual General Meeting on March 22, for a one-year term. Johnston takes over from president Teri Mooring when her third one-year term ends on June 30.
The new BCTF president is married to Holly Johnston. They have five children, three of whom are still in the K-12 school system.
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