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

Vegan-friendly cafe opens in Lake Country

The Salty Caramel Cafe opened last month in Okanagan Centre

More wildfires discovered near Lumby, Cherryville

Canadian Armed Troops in Okanagan, Mabel Creek blaze creeps towards lake

Accident causes traffic delays in Rutland

An accident on Highway 33 occurred Friday night

Apple Triathlon organizers to keep a close eye on air quality

Organizers bring event is back this weekend after taking 2017 off

Naramata firefighters diverted after fires breaches Burns Lake camp

The crew was sent to Vanderhoof after a wildfire reportedly overtook a camp near Burns Lake

Armed Troops in Okanagan to help firefighters

Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Vernon Thursday, being deployed to West Kelowna fire

Cool Creek blaze near Princeton growing with “extreme fire behaviour”

The Cool Creek Fire burning 22 km east of Eastgate has merged… Continue reading

UPDATE: BC Wildfire boxes in Summerland blaze

A fire sparked earlier in the evening near Summerland is “completely boxed… Continue reading

New blaze near Summerland highly visible

Provincial crews are responding Friday evening to a new fire west of… Continue reading

Letter: Transportation plan a good start but too vague

it isn’t clear whether or not Kelowna council considers the 12 goals for this transportation plan

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Naramata firefighters diverted after fires breaches Burns Lake camp

The crew was sent to Vanderhoof after a wildfire reportedly overtook a camp near Burns Lake

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

Most Read