Mt. Slesse middle school teacher Eric Munshaw was one of five industrial education teachers who spoke to B.C. Education Minister George Abbott on Tuesday about safety concerns in shop classes.

Mt. Slesse middle school teacher Eric Munshaw was one of five industrial education teachers who spoke to B.C. Education Minister George Abbott on Tuesday about safety concerns in shop classes.

Shop teachers talk safety with education minister

Education Minister George Abbott hears shop teacher concerns, including those from Chilliwack teacher Eric Munshaw.

B.C. Education Minister George Abbott has promised to take seriously safety concerns made by industrial education teachers.

He has asked his staff to review recommendations that were made in a two-hour meeting held on Tuesday, and to meet back with the trades teachers within two to three months.

Abbott also requested the industrial education teachers review suggestions made by him and his ministry.

“I thought they made some very, very good points about how skills training and shop classes might be improved,” Abbott told The Progress in a phone interview Wednesday.

“Obviously they want their shop classes to be as safe as they can possibly be … everyone’s in agreement on that point.”

The meeting between Abbott and five representatives of the BC Technology Education Association, including Mt. Slesse middle school teacher Eric Munshaw, was held on Tuesday at the World Trade Centre in Vancouver.

The meeting extended two hours, and was the result of safety concerns made by trades teachers, which are contained in a best practices guide developed by BCTEA last year.

BCTEA is concerned with the size of shop classes, which have been increasing across the province for the last few years. Shops, which were designed for 20-24 students with 24 work stations are now, in some cases, exceeding 30 students. For many teachers, they feel they can no longer guarantee the safety of their students.

Since 2007, there have been 705 reported injuries in industrial ed classes in B.C.; 24 from the Chilliwack school district, 17 of which occurred in the last year.

The BCTEA has recommended all shop classes have no more than 20 students by September 2012.

“I’ve heard their suggestions in that regard and will be discussing their suggestions with my senior staff, and will be thinking about those issues as we look at this area potentially for improvements,” said Abbott.

Abbott suggested a training program be developed for educational assistants to equip them with the necessary skills and experience to support shop teachers in the classroom. He plans to follow that up with Canadian Union of Public Employers (CUPE) which represents educational assistants.

He also acknowledged the importance of trades training in the classroom.

“I think they are going to be of increasing importance in the months and years ahead without a doubt,” he said. “The government has made clear its intention to try to ensure every young British Columbian has an opportunity to play an important role in a growing and diversifying economy. If we are going to equip our young people with the skills that will provide them with those fulsome employment and career opportunities than we need to think about more skills training opportunities in our schools and classrooms.”

Teacher Eric Munshaw, who didn’t know what to expect going into the meeting, was pleased coming out of it.

“Bottom line, I think we got his attention, and he wants to continue the conversation,” said Munshaw.

A follow-up meeting will be held in two to three months.

Just Posted

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. (ADOBE STOCK IMAGE)
Shining a light on brain injury in Canada

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read