BC Teacher’s Federation was provoked to strike, stripped of rights…
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
BC Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin slammed the provincial Liberals with a two million dollar bill for the damages they caused to the BC Teachers’ Federation, and then blamed the Liberal Party for provoking BCTF into a strike. MLA Peter Fassbender claimed that the costs of losing and honouring the court case will cost one billion dollars, something that he believes they cannot afford. So, the governments’ conclusion? Rather than admitting that their actions were unconstitutional and putting more money into public education, as was demanded by the judge, the Liberals will be appealing the ruling.
The judge declared that Bill 22 stripped teachers of some bargaining rights. She said it was unconstitutional, because it inferred with the teachers’ rights of association, under section 24. Bill 22 controlled certain aspects of what teachers would normally bargain for, including class structure and size, as well as support for students with special needs. This aligned itself well with a previous ruling she had made on an older piece of attempted legislation from the Liberals. CBC reported that the two million dollars represented an “effective remedy” to the damages that the government had caused.
Jim Iker, president of BCTF, held a press conference, and claimed a small victory for teachers with this ruling. However, he said that too much time was already wasted. Between the two pieces of legislation that Justice Griffin found unconstitutional, class sizes and a lack of teachers and assistants for people with special requirements has hurt an entire generation. Christy Clark, at the time the BC minister of education, attempted to pass a similar bill in 2002. So, it took 12 years for these policies to be undone, a full generation had pass through BC’s public education system; and still the teachers are appealing the ruling. In contrast, to honour this ruling, the government would have to fund similar class sizes and number of assistants to pre-2002 levels, something they do not wish to do.