Ottawa/Vancouver – In a major victory for BC teachers, the B.C Teachers Federation says it’s won its long running battle in the Supreme Court of Canada with the Province of BC.
At issue was class size and composition.
The surprise was the way the decision was announced, a rare decision from the bench.
BC Teachers Federation president Glen Hansman said legally, this is the end of the road for this issue, which will have implications going into the 2017 Provincial Election.
Someone has to pay the bills, and that will be Victoria through tax dollars.
This was the final showdown between the union and the provincial government, who have been battling over the issue since the province tore up teachers contracts in 2002.
Teachers have since maintained they have the right to bargain over class size and composition.
That position was backed in 2014 by a B.C. Supreme Court Judge, who restored the rules to teachers contracts – but the ruling was overturned last year by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
A written decision from the Supreme Court is still pending.
Jo0rdan Batemen with the BC Taxpayers Federation took to social media to caution everyone before the written decision is released: Imp’t to wait for full BCTF judgment – hearing gov’s right to legislate is upheld; BCTF may only have won on need to consult b4hand.
The Provincial Government released this statement:
Finance Minister Michael de Jong issued the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling regarding the relationship between the Charter-protected process of collective bargaining and government’s pursuit of public-policy objectives that impact working conditions.
“We welcome the direction from the Supreme Court, as it addresses uncertainty in labour relations.
“The 2014 collective bargaining agreement was the longest agreement achieved with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) in B.C. history and it brought labour peace and stability to our classrooms.
“I would like to assure students, parents, teachers and employees in the education system that this stability continues, and this ruling does not bring disruption to classrooms.
“This was a ruling about the appropriate process to be followed in labour relations and the importance of constitutionally compliant consultation that must take place.
“The Court has confirmed that governments have the ability to legislate amendments to collective agreements. However, the process to legislate specific amendments in Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act (2012), was flawed.
“The six-year collective agreement we reached with the BCTF in 2014 included an agreement on the process that both the employer and union would follow when the Supreme Court gave a verdict. The collective agreement remains in place, and the employer and the BCTF will now meet to discuss how we move forward to address this aspect of the ruling.
“Government assures all parents and students we continue to be focused on outcomes for students. We have one of the best education systems in the world; student outcomes have improved significantly over the past 15 years. We have also established added investments like the $100-million Learning Improvement Fund that involves classroom teachers in how to best meet the unique needs of their students and classrooms. We are committed to working constructively with the BCTF to keep making our classrooms better.”