B.C. teachers delighted as Supreme Court to hear long-running dispute

VANCOUVER -- A bitter dispute between British Columbia teachers and the provincial government over the right to negotiate class size and composition will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

See Full Article

The top court announced Thursday it would hear the teachers' appeal of a lower-court decision, which said provincial legislation that stripped some bargaining powers did not violate their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We never give up," said B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker at a Vancouver news conference shortly after the decision.

"It's another important step in this long journey through the court system for us," he said.

"By unconstitutionally stripping our collective agreement 14 years ago, this government did so much harm to our public education system."

The province first imposed legislation that removed teachers' ability to bargain class size and composition in 2002. After a B.C. Supreme Court judge deemed the legislation unconstitutional in 2011, the province imposed new legislation the following year.

Similar to the previous legislation, it restricted school boards' power to determine staffing levels and establish class size and composition -- the number of special needs students in a class, for example, or how many teacher assistants can be hired per student in a school.

The dispute led to an acrimonious strike that cut the school year short in the spring of 2014 and was not resolved until September of that year.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional in 2014, but the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that decision last April. Four of five appeal judges found the legislation was constitutional and the province negotiated with teachers in good faith.

A long-term contract has been signed between teachers and the provincial government and Iker said relationships with the province have improved, but teachers still have a duty to resolve the issue.

"Class sizes are larger, class composition has deteriorated year after year, and thousands of teaching positions were lost," he said.

"An entire generation of B.C. students have been shortchanged. It's time that this record comes to an end. Our kids deserve so much more than this government is currently giving them."

Education Minister Mike Bernier said regardless of the court challenge, the province is working collaboratively with the union to deliver the new curriculum. He said the government's relationship with teachers had never been better.

"We've always said that the BCTF's application to have their case heard in the Supreme Court of Canada is part of the democratic process. We are confident in our legal position and appreciate any further guidance the court may provide," Bernier said in a statement.

As is usual in such rulings, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision to hear the case. But the case is expected to have significant implications for the way governments negotiate with unions.

The decision means the teachers' union has 30 days to file its next submissions.

A hearing date has not been set, but Iker hoped it could be held in the fall, with a decision announced sometime next year.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trump heads to U.N. with long list of deals he's yet to close

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week. There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians -- not to mention a number of trade pacts. Source
  • U.S. man dies during underwater proposal, girlfriend says

    World News CTV News
    A couple from Louisiana had their romantic trip to a Tanzania resort end in tragedy after the man died while to proposing to the woman while underwater, according to local reports. Kenesha Antoine posted a memorial to her partner Steven Weber that included photos and videos of the proposal on Facebook. Source
  • Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivers message ahead of UN youth climate summit

    World News CBC News
    The first UN youth climate summit kicks off in New York City on Saturday with a panel of speakers that includes 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. She was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, wrapping up a six-day visit to Washington, appearing with other young activists before the House foreign affairs subcommittee on climate change. Source
  • Greta Thunberg, other activists, deliver messages at UN youth climate summit

    World News CBC News
    The first UN youth climate summit kicks off in New York City on Saturday with a panel of speakers that includes 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. She was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, wrapping up a six-day visit to Washington, appearing with other young activists before the House foreign affairs subcommittee on climate change. Source
  • U.K.'s Labour Party in turmoil as vote to oust deputy ditched

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- A vote to oust the deputy leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party was ditched Saturday after a big backlash to the proposal prompted Jeremy Corbyn, the party's leader, to intervene. The surprise attempt to abolish the role of deputy leader by one of Corbyn's close allies caused uproar among many Labour members and has overshadowed the start of the party's annual conference in the southern England city of Brighton. Source
  • Rare protests in Egypt call for el-Sissi to step down

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- Rare anti-government protests broke out in Egypt Friday night calling on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step down. The former army general has overseen an unprecedented political crackdown, silencing critics and jailing thousands. Source
  • Police use tear gas in Paris amid an array of protests

    World News CTV News
    Paris police used tear gas Saturday to disperse anti-government demonstrators who try to revive the yellow vest movement in protest at perceived economic injustice and French President Emmanuel Macron's government. The French capital was placed under high security as few hundred anti-government protesters started marching in the Paris streets Source
  • Paris police use tear gas for 2nd time on day of protests

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- A protest march on climate change brought thousands of people to the streets of Paris, including some agitators who scuffled with police and drew tear gas in response Saturday. Peaceful participants marched in the south of Paris to demand urgent action from the government and corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save the burning Amazon rainforest and stop the Arctic from melting. Source
  • Iraq detains suspect in deadly bombing that killed 12

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- Iraqi security forces boosted their presence and measures around the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Saturday, a day after a deadly bombing hit a minibus packed with passengers outside the city. Iraq's prime minister said security forces have detained a man suspected of detonating the bomb. Source
  • Hong Kong protesters burn flag, police fire pepper spray

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG -- Protesters in Hong Kong burned a Chinese flag and police fired pepper spray Saturday in renewed clashes over grievances by the anti-government demonstrators. Police accused some protesters of throwing gasoline bombs after a march by several thousand people in Tuen Mun, an outlying district in the northwest of the Chinese territory. Source