Vancouver/Ottawa (With files from CP) – Canada’s highest court will hear an appeal from the BC Teachers’ Federation over its right to bargain class size and composition.
In a decision released Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of Canada says it will hear the case, but, as always, it has not provided reasons for ruling and a date for the hearing must still be set.
The BCTF appealled after the BC Court of Appeal overturned a lower court order that found teachers’ rights were violated when the province failed to consult the union on the size of classes, the number of special needs students in each class, and overall staffing.
The Court of Appeal decision followed two Supreme Court rulings that the government infringed on teachers’ rights and bargained in bad faith after removing their ability to bargain class size and composition with separate legislation in 2002 and in 2012.
BCTF President Jim Iker addressed the media and was quoted on Twitter stating : By stripping our collective agreement 14 years ago the government did so much harm to
#bced. It’s time to invest in kids again, “We look forward to presenting our arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada. “Currently, we have a good relationship with our government. Teachers looking forward to win back their collective agreements they say were stripped 12 years ago.”
BC Education Minister Mike Bernier commented on the Supreme Court decision:
“We’ve always said that the BCTF’s application to have their case heard in the Supreme Court of Canada is part of the democratic process. We are confident in our legal position and appreciate any further guidance the court may provide.
“Regardless of the court challenge, we are working collaboratively with the BCTF to implement the new curriculum and ensure teachers are trained to deliver its benefits to students. It’s worth noting that since the last round of bargaining government’s relationship with the BCTF has never been better.
“B.C. students rank first amongst all English speaking countries in reading, science and math in international testing. We will keep working with the BCTF so students benefit from making our great education system even better. As for the details of the case, as it is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”