I want to thank the hundreds of parents, teachers and students who contacted me regarding the Teachers’ dispute with the B.C. Liberal government.
I am pleased an agreement has been reached, although in my view government’s intransigence has led to unnecessary, and very disruptive school closures. I visited teachers on the picket lines a number of times.
They made it clear that their primary concern has never been about wages and benefits — despite government claims to the contrary, the two sides were not that far apart on this issue.
The heart of the dispute has always been about class size and composition and the lack of classroom support for kids, particularly those with special needs. The Supreme Court of B.C. has twice rejected Liberal government attempts, initiated by Premier Clark when she was Education Minister, to strip class size and composition from the teachers’ contract. Shockingly, the court actually found that government tried to provoke a strike and fined government for bargaining in bad faith.
The province continues to defy these court rulings and yet another appeal by government will be heard in the courts this October. If this appeal is rebuked again, it is my hope that government will stop wasting taxpayer dollars on unproductive court action and provide the resources to make real improvements in classrooms.
Students and their parents deserve this and we will all benefit from these investments.
MLA, Saanich North and the Islands