The Supreme Court of Canada's decision to hear the BCTF's appeal of the 2015 BC Court of Appeal ruling is a very important step in the ongoing legal process and we are pleased to have the opportunity to present our arguments to the nation's highest court, BC Teachers' Federation President Jim Iker says.
“It's been 14 years since the original unconstitutional legislation that stripped our collective agreements, but BC teachers are still very committed to our efforts to win back those important working conditions for teachers, which are also our students' learning conditions,” said Iker.
This ongoing case dates back to 2002 when the government stripped teachers' collective agreements by legislation. In 2011, the BCTF won at BC Supreme Court when that legislation was declared unconstitutional. That decision was never appealed. However, the government enacted another piece of legislation that was substantially similar in 2012, which we again challenged in court. In 2014, there was a new decision at the BC Supreme Court that ordered restoration of the stripped language. In 2015, the BC Court of Appeal overturned the 2014 decision, but that ruling did not affect teacher's bargaining rights won back in 2011.
“BC teachers have the right to bargain class size, class composition, and staffing levels like ratios for specialist teachers. We won that right back following our first BC Supreme Court victory in 2011, a ruling that the government never appealed. Going forward, the BC Teachers' Federation will continue to use the collective bargaining process to achieve better working conditions for teachers and better learning conditions for our students.”
Iker emphasized that government should not wait until the court processes are finished and act now to properly fund public education and address teachers' longstanding concerns.
“A month from now, the BC Liberal government will deliver its 2016 budget. Enrolment is starting to increase after years of decline and we know there are more students with special needs, refugee students, and others with unique needs entering the system. This is the year for government to make a real shift. It's time to invest in BC's kids again.”