B.C. won’t appeal class size ruling

BCTF president Susan Lambert introduces Education Minister George Abbott for a rare appearance at the union's convention in March.

VICTORIA – The B.C. government will work with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation rather than continue a court battle over control of class size and special needs support in public schools, Education Minister George Abbott said Thursday.

The government has been studying a ruling two weeks ago from the B.C. Supreme Court, which said the government infringed on teachers’ constitutional right to bargain with its 2002 legislation that removed class size and special needs support levels from the union contract.

Abbott said the government’s legal advice was not to appeal the ruling, because of a landmark 2007 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that struck down similar legislation altering health care support workers’ union contracts.

In the health care case, Canada’s highest court extended the constitutional right to freedom of association to include collective bargaining for the first time.

In the school case, Justice Susan Griffin of the B.C. Supreme Court gave the B.C. government a year to work out an alternative to the 2002 legislation.

The BCTF has filed thousands of union grievances over class sizes and the number of students with special needs in classrooms around the province, as well as pursuing the issue in court.

Abbott said he called BCTF president Susan Lambert and B.C. School Trustees Association president Michael McEvoy to tell them he wants to see a negotiated solution.

But Abbott acknowledged that the government could end up legislating new rules if negotiations don’t produce a deal.

After Griffin’s court decision, the BCTF estimated that the government would have to add $275 million to the education ministry budget to reduce class sizes and provide support staff to restore conditions from 2002.

The BCTF’s current contract expires at the end of June. It was the first-ever negotiated contract with the B.C.’s 40,000 teachers, after a series of contracts that were imposed by NDP and B.C. Liberal governments.

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Post-grad years are your time

Editor Grace Kennedy shares a few words for this year’s high school grads

PHOTOS: Sasquatch Days about ‘being proud of being Sts’ailes’

The joint event between Harrison and Sts’ailes returned to the village for its eighth year

‘This was my baby’: Music teacher to retire after 29 years at Kent Elementary

Brenda Di Rezze will be saying goodbye to her music room at the end of this school year

LETTER: Harrison needs trees, not a new parking lot

Harrison resident Janne Perrin reminds council that trees are important too

UPDATE: Two young Chilliwack men facing at least five years jail for armed robbery

Darius Commodore and Jaimal Mclaren face 13 charges in Mission/Agassiz incident involving police dog

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Parents of BC murder victim want personal belongings returned

Lisa Dudley’s parents, Rosemarie and Mark Surakka, were at the Mission RCMP detachment Sunday

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Most Read