Teachers will seek another appeal

‘Confident’ of victory in Supreme Court as dispute goes to next round

Teachers weren’t anticipating a loss in the B.C. Court of Appeal, but they considered it the most conservative one they would face, said Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra.

“We knew if we were going to lose somewhere, this is the court where we would have lost,” said Serra, explaining why last week’s ruling was not a shock. “It is disappointing.”

The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the B.C. government in the long-running dispute with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation over the removal of class size and special needs support formulas for classrooms.

In a judgment released Thursday, four of five appeal court judges found that the province did not infringe on the constitutional rights of teachers to bargain working conditions. The appeal court pointed out numerous errors in the 2011 judgment of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin, and overturned her order that the government pay $2 million in damages, which has been paid to the union.

BCTF president Jim Iker said the union will seek to appeal the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada, to restore classroom rules the government removed from the contract in 2002.

Serra said two earlier court victories have teachers confident that the Supreme Court of Canada could give teachers a final victory.

“I think this issue goes beyond our particular teacher situation. This is about a government being able to tear up contracts that were bargained,” said Serra.

“That’s got to be worrisome for all unions, and anyone with a collective agreement.”

The B.C. education ministry has argued that caps on class size and number of students in each class with personalized learning plans were unduly restrictive. The NDP government of the late 1990s negotiated a settlement where the BCTF gave up salary increases in exchange for class size caps, specialist teacher levels and limits on the number of designated special needs students in each class.

Serra said teachers are disappointed with the ruling, and that the government has used contract revisions to underfund education.

“The situation this year and next year and getting worse and worse and worse,” said Serra.

It will likely be years before the matter can be heard and settled by the highest court. Serra said the irony is that an NDP government, if the party can win the next provincial election, could inherit an expensive problem created by the present government.

“The NDP could get stuck with the Liberals’ mess.”

– with files by Tom Fletcher.


Just Posted

UPDATE: Car plunges down embankment in Maple Ridge

Two people injured in morning incident

New rail underpass and overpass comes with costs

Pitt Meadows residents will see 0.75 per cent tax increase for rail crossings

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, vehicle crashes

Happened in early evening, injuries unknown

Court supports Maple Ridge role in tent city

Rejects Pivot application to allow people to return

City video updates Maple Ridge Leisure Centre re-do

Rusty support columns delaying project by a few months

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

Missing Vancouver Island woman believed to be on mainland

Rhonda Stevenson, 43, last seen July 13 in central Nanaimo

Most Read