Business group sides with Christy Clark government in latest court battle with BCTF

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Business group sides with Christy Clark government in latest court battle with BCTF

The Coalition of BC Businesses representing 50-thousand employers and 500-thousand employees has applied for intervenor status in the court case between the provincial government and the BC Teachers Federation over class-size and composition.

Coalition Chair Mark von Shellwitz says the recent ruling by the BC Supreme Court in favour of the union ties the hands of the provincial government and the estimated cost of $2-billion is a threat to all taxpayers.

He says by mandating societal issues that are the purview of a democratically elected government, the court has exceeded its scope.

He argues, while the provincial government has a dual role as an employer and as a manager of the public purse, it’s role as fiscal manager supersedes collective bargaining.


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  1. business groups back the government, where were they when they changed there contract after agreeing with them in 2002. we have this problem with teachers because of the changes. the government has lost twice in court and they still in denial. if they lose again what’s going to happen. there is no common sense with this government, I don’t no the cost of this in court for the tax payer but it could be used for better things. where is she when children and families come first. all talk and nothing else.

  2. It’s a $2b “threat” to taxpayers.

    Olympics ($3b), Sea-to-Sky ($3.5b), Smart Meters ($1b), BC Place ($600m), Golden Ears bridge ($800m), Port Mann/Highway One Expansion ($3.3b), South Perimeter Road ($1.3b), HST referendum ($1.9b), Port Expansion ($1b), Skytrain expansions ($6b), BC Hydro Site C ($7.9b)… need I go on?

    Why is funding public education a “threat”? It has never and will never fit any business model. Give your head a shake.

    • Talk about confusing the issue. These are all capital items, many of which are paid for out of separate funding sources. The HST referendum was forced on the government and subsequent events have shown that it was better than the GST/PST model. Smart meters are funded from BC Hydro revenue-nothing to do with general revenue. Site C is also a Hydro deal and is vital to ensuring we have secure access to power. Same with port expansion and many of the above directly relate to the need to grow the economy so government has the tax revenue to pay for all the free stuff people want.

      The issue here is that the Court has issued a ruling that would, if followed eliminate government discretion over the expenditure of significant amounts of money. With all the talk of accountability these days, no elected government should be forced by unelected judges to pay for anything. If the judges want to set public policy, then run for office. As we saw with Wally Oppel, they may not be up to the job.

      • Smart meters are funded by the taxpayer as this government will cook the books then borrow money to balance its budget as with ICBC and we get the increased costs to pay for it.Seems you like to defend this government even when it has broken the law,where is there democracy in this? Seem you want government to be all controlling dictators or totalitarianism? Democracy is slipping with you. The liberals have been growing the economy and the debt keeps escalating. the TFWP will be the norm and supported by Liberal supporter to punish Canadians for not working cheaper and if employers should sweeten the pot and pay more for Canadians with a living wage,maybe a wage differential for night shifts or weekends,with the many unemployed just see the economy soar when Canadians can get a decent paying job and are back with buying power, but with your support for these Liberals and harper/Cons it will not happen. Who are these businesses that side with Christy and becoming political with corporate involvement in collective bargaining and who is really running government business or the BC Liberals?

        • If you had a real original thought Ken it would be amazing. You always spout the same nonsense . . . promoting your socialist paradises around the globe, which are all dismal economic failures and tyrannies that suppressed the human spirit, robbed people of their freedoms, and sent many to early graves for their anti-government beliefs. Under socialism/communism people were equal – equally miserable, equally poor, equally hungry, equally cold, equally mistreated, equally deprived, and equally imprisoned or killed for their thoughts.

          • Your thoughts are parallel and so Ideology driven and goes on like a stuck record! If the right were doing so great why is it the world was on it’s knees because of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the right winged ideology that is what you support until they got caught and then it was the socialists and unions that cause it. Everyone that were to blame and the ones that cause this chaos walked out unscathed, the austarity measures are getting a beating and being fought back hard and by ordinary people trying to live! So pipe on and call people names if Social Democrats or calling progressives as being the problem while you right wingers run all the way to the banks and caymans Islands and anywhere you can salt the profits away to avoid paying taxes.The right wing economies screwed the people a lot more, look at BC. TFWP, part-time work to name a few and what you support here all the time!

          • KeN . . . . “the world was on it’s knees because of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac”

            You are once again poorly informed Ken . . . F&F were put on steriods back in 1993 by the Clinton “Community Reinvestment Act” . . . granting mortgages to millions of the folks that could not qualify . . . remember Clinton and “Red Lining”?
            Trillions in mortgages piled up and when the real estate bubble started to collapse in late 2007 the fun began.
            Once again this was Far-left ideology . . . everyone deserves a house, and Fwank, Dodd and dozens of Democrats defended this insane policy while Bush tried several times to end the scam.
            Reigns the guy appointed by Clinton to run Freddie Mac made out like a bandit and walked away with 90 Million.

            Just so much you don’t know Ken . . . why do you keep posting, so the world knows that you don’t ?

          • You point out that the US Democrats created the initial problem regarding mortgages. You are of course correct, however, the real problem arose as a result of derivatives, which wall street through it’s banking system were allowed to peddle to unsuspecting investors under the guise of Government Guarantees. These were commercial transactions and had NOTHING to do with liberal ideology; and pure unchecked greed. You may be critical of Ken280 for only knowing have the story, but now you now the other side. As you know the losses are covered by the average US taxpayers, many of whom lost their savings in failed banks as well as their homes.

      • Teachers for the most part have only gone to school . . . they have little life experience. Many chose teaching when they failed at their original goals at University . . . so they became teachers by default.
        Many never worked in the real world at a real job for a real private sector employer.
        Education in BC needs to be more than a one-size fits all system, that has demonstrated for decades that it does not work. Dominated by a far-left out-of-control BCTF. Time for alternatives, charter schools, private schools and religious schools who would control their own staff which would broaden the education industry in BC . . . that would be For the Students!
        The “Status Quo” has been broken for decades . . . .

        • Little life’s experience what the hell are you talking about as the right winger spouts it off again! Remember more teacher travel the world and live real life experiences every year in many countries.So I am wondering whom you think you are to say that Teacher know nothing or have little experience in life, unlike you that has reached cosmic consciousness and know everything, my God! Do you have any shame.

          • Once again Ken you spout nonsense . . . far-left lunacy.

            When I went to school, granted a number of decades ago . . . my best teachers were those that had worked for a decades or more in the Private Sector. One had been in the military.
            These were the best of the best and could relate to the Real world . . . not just the world of academia, which today has become the land of Ozz as the Far Far-left and radicals have completely taken over. Most universities today are bastions of radical far-left thought and Critical Thinking and Debate left the campuses two decades ago.

            So a teacher takes a holiday? Certainly they have plenty of time to do that as they only work 1/2 a year total. So is a holiday equal to maybe helping run a small business?

            As usual Ken . . . I am closer to the truth than you will ever be . . .

          • Thank you Ken…you are right on the mark. 41000 teachers, collectively, know far more about life and education (especially the latter) than the rest of the citizens of the province combined…and that includes the so-called experts in government!

  3. I thought the court ruled on a constitutional matter, not one of economics. It may be that the outcome will cost the province some money but the court didn’t say you owe the BCTF 2 billion, it said figure it out and bargain this in good faith. I wonder where would the business coalition have us draw the line? Maybe we should shut down half the schools in the province because that would save a few billion as well. Every other province seems to have class size and composition figured out. Why is it that BC can’t despite saving billions on the issue for the past decade?

  4. We the private sector workers need a ME TO CLAUSE
    Me to get msp premiums paid, dental , eye care
    Me to get sick days
    Me to get bereavement time with pay
    Me to get paid for drug and alcohol counselling
    Me to get pensions over and above cpp
    No more increases to government workers till ME TO get some of what they get paid for by US

    • He especially should have paid attention in spelling/grammar class … that should be me “too” clause …

      Or perhaps that is just a reflection of our education system.

      • Try to be productive in your responses. The vast majority of British Columbians are in the private sector. BCTF members can continue to ignore their concerns about allowing their pay / benefits to come in to line with the public sector before we gravy up the public sector including Education more. I wish unions would understand we’re all one, it’s not about us VS them. BCTF member say why don’t you form a union like we have or demand more pay while private workers say back why don’t you just leave if you’re not happy as we have in the past as you can teach in other provinces or in private schools. Both sides would say it’s not as easy as it sounds. One thing is for sure insulting the clients and consumers of the Education system is not a productive way to get your end goal deal.

        • Yes Sammy The response of you should have paid attention, pathetic. Democracy is about sharing ideas growing . not sitting hurling insults . That is not what is being discussed .We are supposed to be addressing the bloated demands of the BCTF

  5. Makes sense. The BCTF is a 2B tax payers threat which must not be allowed to gravy off the province purse. Most teachers who have money problems have so not because of a salary but because they lack financial knowledge. They do not know the difference between an asset and a liability and buy liabilities that they think are assets and thus are in the rat race. An education in finance would better serve then more tax dollars.

    • Or perhaps an out of control housing market is the issue? One that threatens all low-middle income Vancouverites trying to get established. Or perhaps it is the runaway price of fuel? Or the ever-increasing cost of groceries? Oh right… Hydro rates just went up…

      • All those increases to the general cost of living affect normal tax payers, employees in the private sector which is why they have less now a day to pay more taxes. Is there a way we can have our cake and eat it too. Can Education get a boost in funding without affecting tax payers? This can be done through a strong private sector. Unfortunately the BCTF have fought to slow resource base projects. It’s as if they don’t know where their funding comes from and what their pension are invested in.

        • One idea put forward is for the public purse NOT to fund the private schools…”private” should mean just that…and “public” should mean just that…or lets put a flat tax on the wealthy 10% of the people, those who pay no taxes because they have the means to hide their money or make investments that are loopholes in the tax system…so they pat their fair share…or actually collect taxes from businesses that defer or write them off at will…we’d have more than enough to fund every worthy project and group.

  6. The BC government freely negotiated CS and CC contract language and terms with the BCTF. Clearly, that government of the day regarded CS an CC as an important pillar of our public education system. Implicit was the notion that the attendant costs were acceptable and affordable to government. Then, the BC government unilaterally removed such contract laguage and terms.

    Fast forward to the pending appeal and possibly beyond to the SCOC.

    IMO, the government can hardly now claim unaffordability (remember, regardless it is a non-str

  7. No surprise here….same group that benefited from Campbell taking money out of education and getting tax cuts. Why doesn’t this group tell Christy to fairly deal with teachers…get a deal done now with compromise. How much would it have cost if they had dealt with it when courts first ruled against them.

  8. MY post was submited before I finished…SORRY…..Continued

    IMO, the government can hardly now claim unaffordability because it had agreed to such terms before. It obviously was prepared to spend the money. According to the law, regardless of stripe, a government is seen as a body or person that exists in perpetuity. A government has the fiscal power to create new revenue or increase existing revenue streams and/or to prioritize its spending commitments.

    That a government of another day made an unaffordable commitment based on a different philosphy does not give another the right to tear up contracts. I know-it’s under appeal.

    This case has little in common where the BC government won an appeal regarding the education of autistic children. As far as I know, the government did not tear up a contract to withhold education funding from autistic children. There was no contract to tear up.

    All that said, I find it very hypocritical on the part of business to seek intervenor status in the government-BCTF fight. After all, what part of our economy has the most to gain from a well-educated workforce?

    Business and business groups should be supporting the call for better educated children. Better to stick to their oen knitting.

    But then they want all kinds of skills training at OUR taxpayer expense because they are unwilling to do it thenselves, They are miffed at the loss of a $1.6 billion subsidy which HST would have given them at OUR taxpayer expense. Their palms are strtched out. Read today’s Sun editorial.

  9. OK. But I wonder that they would say in the government started to rip up their contracts. “Oh, yes Company Y. We know we signed a contract legally binding us to pay $X for that product, but we have decided we can’t afford that. So, we’ve decided to rip that up and just pay you this other, smaller amount. Now Company Y, we know you claim the contract we signed was legally binding, and yes we know that you have taken us to court twice for that and yes we lost both of those court cases, but honestly, we have cut taxes and can no longer afford it. Besides we are a democratically elected government and that means the people of BC have given us the authorization to break whatever laws we like.”

    What would any business person think of that?

  10. Just so Mark von Shellwitz knows, between temporary foreign workers and this I no longer give a CRAP about supporting local businesses. Until they speak out against their board chair’s like von Shellwitz Canadians owe the small business in this country nothing.

  11. Luckily in Canada there are limits on the authority of government and the rights of citizens, each of which is protected under our constitution and charter and by an independent judiciary. I shutter to think where we’d be if Mr. Shellwrtz and his ilk was in charge.

    Three important dates for you to consider: Back-to-work legislation in the fall; the Appeals Court decision in October; and the pending SCOC decision on Docket #35423 (Essential Service Authority). Anything between the parties now is a joke because the teachers are likely to be out again in the fall if the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down Essential Service. The government has no real plan for the fall, and parents are hooped.

    Further to your poll on education (opposite), funding tax cuts and corporate welfare on the backs of students, parents and teachers is hardly a sustainable business strategy. Get to work, build pipelines and join the 21st century. There’s a durable business plan for B.C.

  12. As usual the “sheep” don’t understand the problem; the “normal” kids in the classroom are not getting the education they deserve because the teacher hasn’t any time for them. Without additional support, our school system will turn out students who are ill-equipped to compete for jobs in the world. So, while making a minority of parents happy about the schooling their children get, we are sacrificing the majority to a mediocre education.
    Just think, how well a job could you do at work, if there were a few people nearby who caused tremendous upheaval every day. So why do we expect our “normal” children to be able to learn under such conditions. The government is screwing with the future of the “normal” kids, at the expense of a vocal minority of parents. The “special needs” students should have special classes, with well-trained teachers who understand their problems, that fully meet their educational needs, and not be mixed in with the other children. They can socialize with the other students at recess and lunch time.
    It is time for the social engineering experiment to end, and start focusing on the majority of students who are being short-changed.

    • Agreed
      The mixing of special needs children in the classroom is at the core of some of the BCTF demands . Special needs (ones who disrupt the educational environment of the classroom) detract from the learning of ordinary children .I know some parents say it is not fair that their children do not have the social interaction with other children .Well what about the detrimental affect that is inflicted on the majority . Democracy is the majority . In this case the minority through the court system has instituted the integration of special needs children into the classroom .This is a completive world .We should have a school environment that is the best of . Instead we see some teachers entrenched in traditional bricks and mortar . Job security .We have to embrace technology .That is the future . so much learning is accomplished out of the classroom . We should have had respect consultation . the ability to move forward .adapt to produce an education system that is the best of the best . Instead a growing mediocrity .Teachers say no to giving grades etc.That It is not fair . Tell tell it to the rest of the world . They will pass us by.

  13. Though this originated from the teachers’ dispute, it has little to do with it now. Allowing our government to break the law establishes a precedent that should greatly concern every British Columbian.

  14. Let’s hope this action get legs. Time to straighten out whether the Government or the BCTF is going to control the budgeting process. This silly saga has gone on far too long.

  15. The way I read this is that there is concern that the BC SC overstepped its authority in ruling WHAT the CS and CC should be, rather than simply ruling that, yes, CS and CC are issues to be negotiated in a collective agreement BUT then leaving it up to the two parties to negotiate the actual levels (ie. same as 2002, higher than 2002, lower than 2002 or whatever.)

    • And this is the heart of the issue.
      The first court ruling was much like this, where the government was told they can’t just strip the CS/CC language out of the contract and had to bargain. However they mistakenly assumed they could bargain starting at the nothing they legislated into the contract in 2002, smile and stay at nothing, while claiming they are bargaining. The second ruling basically told them to stop pretending to bargain, to bargain in good faith and start your bargaining with the 2002 levels, not from 0.

  16. This is welcome news. I applaud the conviction and courage of this business group to stand up and be heard. Each level of government must alone hold the responsibility to govern according to the principles and promises they were elected on. A trade union has zero public mandate to commandeer the formation of government policy, programs or administration.
    The argument that a court has spoken is moot since a higher court interpretation has yet to be given.

  17. A contract is a legal binding agreement between two parties. In this case the BCTF and the BCPSEA. Then along comes the government and rips up the contract (like a bully changing the rules when and where they see fit). Finally after 10 years of court battles this government has been exposed for what they really are, bullies. Does this sound like a government who supports public education?

  18. WOW ,,there are a lot of pi**ed people in this province ,,,against each other ,,exactly where the government wants it ,,, we should all ( both sides) be pi**ed at the Liberals. The Lib’s altered a valid contract , the courts have ruled against them ,,, twice ,,, no one (both sides) wants more taxes,,, duh ,,, and the NDP would be no better ,, there are so many fiasco’s I have lost track ,,, Transit , Bridge Tolls, minimum wage hold down , foreign workers, bike lanes ,Skytrain Stations that look like the Sydney Opera House, all this energy being wasted fighting each other. Maybe if we collectively TOLD the Liberals to stop spending money we do not have we might get somewhere , not likely as people like Brian Rennie is now a bag man for the Liberals and wants to sell 1,000′s more condo’s to people who do not even like here. It’s all about ME and the rest of you can go h*ll I guess.

  19. I am going to google the Coalition of BC Business and Chair Mark Von Shellwitz and find out if a Coalition member operates a retail business in my locality,

    If such a business does operate locally. I will contact it and inform it that I will boycott its business.

    I suggest other posters, especially teachers, do likewise. Those Coalition members had better be prepared to walk the talk.

      • The Business coalition is 15 years too late. If it was concerned that government should practice good public policy and fiscal management, it should have taken the then government to court then.This recent move is like closing the gate after the horse is out.

        Funny if it’s ox is gored, business (Carrier) took the government to court and won. As part of public policy, the government cancelled its tree-cutting license to appease FN’s.

        What the NDP did then, might well be regarded as the template that met the SCOC ‘s decision on FN’s right to traditional lands. Nice to see that judicial rulings have come up to speed.

        BTW, I emailed the Coalition but don’t expect an answer. Have you done your share? We need you.

        • No. I’m waiting for you to let me know who these businesses are so I can support them and thank them for standing up against the BCTF.
          Of course you’ll still be shopping State-side though so you won’t really be missed.

          • I have received my NEXUS card as a trusted traveller. My wife’s application has been approved. Her card should be in the mail. So good bye to long border line ups.

            BTW do you like sex? Since you like to travel, off you go.

  20. Tired of hearing Liberals legally elected government…does that give them the right to do whatever they want. As for NDP giving teachers the contract at end of their mandate. So what…they were legally elected. Is there a law on the books that says a government at end of term can’t enter contracts. You Liberal supporters can’t have it both ways.

    • …. indeed, and the BCLiberals were elected to ‘fix’ the sins of the NDP!

      Note, the BCNDP just about killed BC as it became a ‘have not Province’, hords of businesses just left the Province, BC Citizens payed the highest taxes and fees, the NDP totally neglected major infrastructure needs, the NDP destroyed the education system by underfunding, by abolishing the central learning resource system. The BCNDP mis-spent billions of dollars on ‘failed’ social programs, and the story continues….
      The BCLiberals came on stream to make the Province a have one, to increase employment and opportunity, and they did!

    • Does the fact that the NDP were then rewarded with a meager 2 seats give you a hint about what the public thought of their gift to the BCTF? Oh, and the Liberals went on to easily win even more elections after that.

  21. So Stephen…why Liberals always crying poverty. ..if they have turned BC into such a powerhouse. ..How come they can’t properly fund education.

    By the way sins of Liberals
    BC rail
    Ethnic gate scandal
    Just a few


    • Insulting language is this tour forte?
      Hate to tell you this is a free enterprise system .It is taxes from companies and people that support our social services .We need a strong economy to support our social services programs .
      A yes the workers paradise . We have seen the failed Marxist experiment in the Soviet Union. If communism is so wonderful why do the people try to leave .Face government persecution for doing so ??No rights and freedoms that we so love .To be saying things like this in these countries would merit a late night visit from the state police . being Imprisoned .
      You are saying that this system is much better in your comments about Capitalism.
      Socialism is a collective chase to the bottom

      • I was referring here to some teachers that are on the far left .Have lost touch with reality as to where they are and how they got here .
        Touting that if this was a communist system. That they would have all the money they wanted for education . Duh . Did not quite work out that way in the workers paradise(USSR) .
        Trying to get through to them that this is a democracy in a capitalist system country.
        If things are so distasteful here we might suggest that they apply for work visas in Cuba.