We’re learning more about why the Supreme Court of Canada sided with B.C.’s teachers’ union, ending a 14-year-long legal battle over the right to bargain class size and composition.
“The majority of the court would allow the appeal substantially for the reasons of Justice Donald, therefore the appeal is allowed.”
And with that, the Chief Justice drew gasps from the courtroom as Canada’s highest court issued a rare decision from the bench, siding with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and overturning legislation from 2002 that prevented the union from negotiating class sizes and the number of students with special needs in a classroom.
The Supreme Court of Canada said it would allow the appeal “substantially for the reasons of Justice Donald.” He was the dissenting justice in the BC Court of Appeal decision that sided with the province.
He said Bill 22 was unconstitutional and the province negotiated in bad faith.
He also says the province made collective bargaining with the teachers “an ostensibly futile act.”
So when will parents and students see changes to their classrooms?
President of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, Glen Hansman, says more teachers could be hired by January.
“We are hoping that by January the ball will be rolling in a really meaningful way. I know that the B.C. Public School Employer’s Association, the government, were having conversations with superintendents yesterday with regards to staffing levels. Hopefully we can have a face to face meeting within the next week or so.”
But he says a date hasn’t been set yet.
Hansman wants to see at least 1,600 specialist teachers hired.
“Right now in British Columbia we have thousands of classes that would be over the previous limits in teachers’ collective agreements and thousands of classes that over the province’s numbers in the present day School Act so things are going to change quite significantly.”
BCTF research shows a decline in class composition over the past decade.
The union also wants primary classroom sizes to be reduced from 24 to between 18 and 20 students, and limits on secondary class sizes.
The government says it cannot guarantee classroom changes will be in place for next September.