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

Veteran Saanich councillor Vicki Sanders won’t seek re-election

‘Council is becoming more complicated,’ says Coun. Leif Wergeland

Local and international artists paint murals across Victoria

Sixteen murals are spread out across downtown Victoria as part of the ‘concrete canvas’ project

Oak Bay brothers scoop 10 kg of poop from park paths in 30 mins

Family picks up dog poo to give back, inspire others to be more responsible

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Longtime broadcaster joins race for Saanich council

Ian Jessop says he wants to bring support to Mayor Richard Atwell around council table

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

First long-awaited Cyclone lands near Victoria airport

Military helicopter first of nine to come to Saanich Peninsula base

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

Most Read