VANCOUVER, B.C. — B.C. Teachers and the province are stepping back into the labor dispute ring.
President Jim Iker and the BC Teachers’ Federation are celebrating a Supreme Court of Canada decision to hear their appeal of a provincial appellate court decision overturning two lower court rulings.
In its decision last April, the BC Court of Appeal rejected rulings that teacher’s rights were violated when the province stripped their collective agreement of the right to bargain class size and composition.
Mr. Iker argues, although this battle started 14 years ago, the effects are still being felt today.
Education Minister Mike Bernier took the high road in response to the high court decision saying the government is confident about its legal position, but has always said the BCTF’s application to have its case heard in the Supreme Court is part of the democratic process.
He also argued it’s worth noting that since the last round of collective bargaining the government’s relationship with the union has never been better, as they continue to work together to implement a new curriculum and ensure teachers are trained to deliver its benefits to students.
Mr. Iker conceded, relations between teachers and the province are improving — but then he added,
He believes Supreme Court arguments will be heard this fall and he expects a decision by next year, but he also believes the government shouldn’t wait until the court processes are finished to make a shift in education funding — indicating next month’s budget should address new challenges like those presented by the arrival of new refugee students and an increase in those with special needs.