Minister, union head to meet Wednesday in teachers’ dispute

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Minister, union head to meet Wednesday in teachers' dispute

Is it a possible turning point in the BC teachers dispute?

The province confirms Education Minister Peter Fassbender, government negotiator Peter Cameron and BC Teachers Federation Jim Iker will meet tomorrow at the legislature in Victoria.

It’s the first face-to-face between the union head and the minister.

The last time he met with anyone from the government was more than two weeks ago.

No word yet on what they’ll talk about, whether it’ll be bargaining.

Teachers set up picket lines today in various school districts, with exactly a week to go until school is supposed to start.

Meanwhile, an update now on a story CKNW first reported last week.

The parents of children with special needs will continue to have access to government subsidies covering daycare costs, if the dispute isn’t resolved by Friday.

Last month, New Westminster mother Anne Belanger received a letter informing her the $3,200 per month she collects from the government would dry up in September.

She told reporters last week she would have to take a leave from work to care for her son.

Staff with the Ministry of Education now confirm contractors are being told the funding will continue.

They say lower-income parents currently receiving child care subsidies are also eligible for the full-day subsidy until schools re-open.


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  1. I have a topic for them to discuss: the parellels between the Jeffrey Moore SCOC case and the current teacher impasse, both of which invlolve substantial issues around funding for special needs, which the court said were not “an expendable luxury” for the province. And here’s a question to get things started: Has the minister or the premier even met with the Moore family to discuss the case and the issue of funding for special needs?

    • I am now convinced more than ever that the current policy of inclusion just does not work and no amount of money poured into the system will resolve the issues.
      The normal classroom is polluted with minutia which is taking away from academics.
      Students with these problems (which are likely known by the parents at a early age) must also take responsibility. Those students that have serious behavioral issues, or where they are unlikely to achieve academic standards just do not belong in a normal school.
      The system for special needs kids needs to be redesigned as the current system is totally incomprehensible and too costly.

      • Unfortunately, Madame Justice Abella of SCOC doesn’t agree with you. Luckily our country is still a country of laws and learned people. Stephen, the 1800s called, they’d like their social outcasts back. Double up on your meds and let the professionals deal with special needs.

        • Get the special needs kids out of the regular classrooms into their own where 100% of the time will be allotted to their needs. This also gives the other students the time that they need. If you do this class size is no longer an issue. Trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole doesn’t work Mike, no matter what you and others seem to think. Go into the real world of business and you will find out the truth. And, before you come back with your snotty , angry retort remember what Mom told you. “. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all “

  2. A meeting day after few teachers show up to picket and only 11,000 people sign an online petition in support of the BCTF even though there are 41,000 teachers in the province on strike. Hopefully Iker takes notice.

  3. If Minister Fassbender maintains his position that the government will not sit until mid-October with the full implication that teachers will not be legislated back to work even if the the strike extends well into or past September, he may be creatng a legal problem.

    I’m not a lawyer but this stance by the government may well provide grounds for the BCTF to challenge BC”s Essential Services legislation which designated education as an essential service.

    It seems to me that the government cannot have it both ways and designate education an essential service while it is prepared to allow a strike to go on indefinitely. At other times the government has relied on essential services designation to curtail the ability of the BCTF to shut down the entire school system to exert pressure on the government.

    In May, the Supreme Court of Canada was scheduled to issue a decision on essential services legislation in the province of Saskatchewan. At issue was whether government should be allowed to disallow the charter right of a union to go on strike-only when public safety or the enviroment was endangered. The high court reserved its decision.

    Teachers who read and post on this website are encouraged to dicuss this issue with their union executives. As I said, I’m not a lawyer but it would seem that if a particular public service is designated through legislation as “essential, the government must administer it as such-in this case education- and act accordingly. If education is declared essential, the government, too, must abide by its laws.

    In my opinion, the BCTF should consider a court challenge of Essential Service legislation when timely. At the very minimum, it should make public the government’s contradictory positions…..

    • “I’m not a lawyer but this stance by the government may well provide grounds for the BCTF to challenge BC”s Essential Services legislation which designated education as an essential service.”

      To that, an organization cannot call job action and then demand back-to-work legislation considering themselves to be essential service. To further that, this may very well hinder the BCTF deeming services they ought to provide based on their stage 1 job action to be considered a requirement to the job and will be required to complete it.

      “At issue was whether government should be allowed to disallow the charter right of a union to go on strike-only when public safety or the enviroment was endangered.”

      Define endangerment. Education may be an essential service in some people’s minds, however the requirement of safety is within the school and not within the education.

      “Teachers who read and post on this website are encouraged to dicuss this issue with their union executives. As I said, I’m not a lawyer but it would seem that if a particular public service is designated through legislation as “essential, the government must administer it as such-in this case education- and act accordingly. If education is declared essential, the government, too, must abide by its laws. ”

      You’re not a lawyer. Nor is this a legal opinion. This is strictly an opinion. We’re all aware what you’re opinion is, it’s unchanging and if you want us to accept that, then accept that others have their opinions and are unchanging.

  4. Legally speaking, I’m not exactly sure what the nature or definition of an essential service is and what that implies for the employer in this case. If memory serves, the Liberals designated education an essential service so that they could use legislation to hardball the BCTF in negotiations. This conveniently occurred right around the time they were stripping contracts. Clearly essential service designation works heavily against the BCTF as it does not legally obligate the employer to legislate, it simply gives them the option when it suits them.

    I also think there was an second motive to the $40/day – namely to cover their legal backsides from potential lawsuits from parents. They can now claim that they are indeed providing the necessities for public education (at least publicly funded at $40/day). DeJong, when he made the announcement, made the point of saying that this money could and should be used to explore other “educational opportunities.” He went on to say that if parents CHOSE to use it for daycare that was THEIR CHOICE. In this way, the government can claim they are upholding the School Act by providing the means for “educating” kids in the province. The rationale that those 13 years and older have the wherewithal to seek out their own educational opportunities online is admittedly a bit of a stretch, but one they Liberals would be capable of drawing out in court if push ever came to shove.

    • You are absolutely right that that the Liberals are capable of drawing out any convenient argument in court to suit their purposes.

      But to provide a slightly different perspective, pursuing a remedy under ESL does not require additional legislation. The law is already there. The government only needs to go to the Labour Relations Board for a ruling.

      Well, the Saskatchewan case before SCC is all about whether the essential services designation of public services is constitutional if public safety and the environment are not affected. When it renders its decision, it will have a profound effect on every government and public sector union. Of course, the definition or perception of an essential service varies. One thing we all need to understand is that Commonsense’s or my idea of an essential service in the Saskatchewan case has no merit. The parties involved have already argued that issue and I doubt whether the parties would have found Commonsense’s perceptions on what is essential or not as most trivial-and not worthy of mention.

      All told just because someone like Commonsense attacks me and my opinion, which he is not obligated to read or accept, is not reason for someone to not publicize the apparent contradiction in the government’s position wrt ESL Besides no one, especially me, is suggesting that he has to do anything.

      The point is particularly obvious that I am not suggesting that the BCTF take the government to court to require the government to order the BCTF back to work. Instead, I see grounds for challenging the ESL itself in court with the argument that ESL is just a convenient tool to use against a union. That the government has indicated that it will not legislate teachers back to work and will soften the day-care burden on parents is evidence that the ESL is only intended to put pressure on teachers because the government, itself, does not believe that education, itself, is an ES.

      BTW, another perspective: If legislations, laws and regulations are duly passed, a government is legally obligated to abide by its own laws. There is little wonder why organizations and individuals take government to court for not following the rule of law-especially laws that, it itself, proclaimed. So in this sense, challenges against affronts on our charter rights is hardly a waste of judicial time.

      Interesting enough, the Sun has picked up on the possibility that the government will employ ESL to force the teachers back to work.

      Dealing with the issues without getting personal as I originally posted is far more enlightening than attacking others for their views.

      Of course I will always repond to Commonsense’s attacks and that is my right. . He is so easy-like a walk in the park.

  5. Since the government is US, the taxpayer, I want them to do what is necessary to end this nonsense by the BCTF. Period.
    As far as Special Needs in the classroom, it is proving to be devastating the the learning environment in the classroom to the detriment of all. Teachers, students and the special needs children as well as the TAs. Considering such an environment, who can learn anything! The special needs children need their own classrooms and enough TAs to do the job properly. Take them out of the classroom general population. They do not belong there. It creates a completely untenable position for the teachers and students.
    It would appear that the employers recognize the funding issues and are prepared to set aside enough money to address and should be prepared to increase that funding to effect the right atmosphere.
    The BCTF’s demands in that area are so outrageous and over the top as to ensure the rejection by the employers and government but it is the responsibility of the employer to deal with the special needs issue in a way that works for everyone.

    • You are absolutely correct to opine that the government do wehatever is necessary to end this nonsense by the BCTF.

      The only problem is that the Charter of Rights and Freedom has gotten in the way.

      Nonsense or otherwise, I agree that the government do whatever is necessary to get children back into the classroom as long as the government observes its laws..

      A government is not elected to break the law. The electorate, in the main, expects goernment to observe the rule of law,

      And when a government strips charter rights of an association or individual, they have the right to seek recourse through the judicial system. That is my opinion and I do not expect you or anyone else to agree.

      • Well, Insite, if you are referring to the court case pending on appeal, that is for the courts to decide and they are in the process. What the ruling will be is up to them.
        At this point however, it seems to me that issue should be set aside until they DO have a ruling and sign a contract regarding salary and benefits, etc. I see no reason why they cannot do that. The BCTF want control of class size and composition and they want us to fund it to the tune of 1.67billion a YEAR of a 5 year contract. The employer has offered monies for that, it may or may not be enough but it seems to me that is an area for administration to decide, along with principals and teachers directly involved.and not the BCTF. As I read the BCTF proposal they not only want control they want such an outrageous funding system as to bankrupt the ministry. With declining enrollment and increased funding from the ministry every year without fail, I see no solid footing the BCTF has for their outrageous demands.
        I will say this , though: The ministry allocate the money and the school boards distribute it. HOW it is distributed might be up for debate, and the BCTF should debate it if they feel it is unfair. But to hijack endlessly the entire public education system with unrealistic wage and benefit demands along with insistence on controlling everything within the system while they conduct a propaganda campaign to gain their own ends, then they lose many, many parents who need for their children to be in school and to be educated in the best interests of their children. Many are so fed up they will sacrifice to put their children in private schools where they do get educated and well and parents are free of this political agenda of the BCTF.
        If the government fired them all and hired many of the teachers who have lost their jobs I believe there would be overwhelming support for that. At some point enough is enough. And we have reached it.