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

Victoria crash threatens shipyard’s schedule for new coast guard ships

Delivery of the vessel was already years overdue

Victoria Police Department’s K9s help make three arrests

Police Services Dogs Alpha and Zender have had a busy few weeks

Sooke passes budget with 7.17% tax increase

Six positions added to municipal ranks

Work set to begin on removing Sooke’s derelict boats from waterways

Seven boats earmarked to be removed this spring

Souper Bowls cook up support for Victoria youth

Youth Empowerment Society fundraising event set for April 4 at Crystal Gardens

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Norway opens probe into why cruise ship ventured into storm

The Viking Sky was headed for southern Norway when it had engine problems on Saturday afternoon

Fired B.C. farmland commission chair backs NDP rule changes

Richard Bullock agrees with Lana Popham, ALC records don’t

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

Most Read