The Supreme Court of Canada issued a rare verbal decision Thursday on the union rights case that involved federal and provincial governments.

B.C. teachers celebrate top court ruling on class size

Supreme Court backs union on class size, special needs, overturning 2002 legislation introduced by Christy Clark as education minister

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation and other provincial unions are celebrating victory in their long-running legal battle with the B.C. government over control of class size and special needs support in public schools.

BCTF president Glen Hansman was at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa for the decision Thursday, which was delivered verbally in an unusually short time.

“We are jubilant to say the least,” Hansman told Global TV.

Hansman said the decision upholds a 2012 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that the legislation violated the union’s constitutional right to collective bargaining, and will compel the B.C. government to add as much as $300 million to the education budget to hire more teachers.

Education Minister Mike Bernier was not immediately available to comment on the ruling.

When the Supreme Court of Canada agreed in January to hear the appeal, Bernier said it wouldn’t disrupt the school system because of a five-year settlement negotiated with the BCTF in 2014.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Thursday the court’s seven-to-two decision came more quickly than anyone expected, leaving the government more time to negotiate a settlement based on the contract language removed by legislation in 2002.

It also leaves time for the cost of a settlement to be included in the 2017 budget, to be tabled in February. De Jong would not comment on the BCTF’s estimate of the cost of adding more staff to classrooms across the province.

The 2014 contract settlement came after a long, bitter strike that saw the government send out $40-a-day child care payments to 230,000 families for 13 school days lost due to strike action in the fall.

NDP leader John Horgan said the decision puts public education back into the spotlight for the May 2017 provincial election, since it ends a bitter dispute that began in 2002 when Premier Christy Clark was the education minister who removed class size and special needs support provisions from the BCTF contract.

“After 14 years of disrespect for classrooms, the end of the road has finally arrived for Christy Clark and her war on public education,” Horgan said. “This is a great day for public education  in British Columbia, and it is a day for some accountability from the B.C. Liberals.”

B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger, a former BCTF president, posted a picture celebrating the decision, which came less than a half an hour after the nine judges of the Supreme Court of Canada heard from an array of union and government lawyers in Ottawa Thursday.

 

 

Just Posted

Ravens Crossing co-housing group secures Sidney site

Closer community ties are the goal

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

Woodwynn Farms sold to B.C. government

Therapeutic-recovery community is the goal, but no on-site housing planned

Peninsula Streams needs volunteers

Program addresses the scourge of plastics in the ocean

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

5 things to do this weekend around Victoria

The sounds of summer Rock the Shores returns to the lower fields… Continue reading

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

LOCAL FLAVOUR: South Island expecting a bumper berry crop

It’s berry time in Saanich. My raspberries are getting plump and ripe… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read