Discussions with BCTF will Start “Without delay” says deJong
Victoria, B.C. – Finance Mininster Michael de Jong says today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision which says the Province of BC must negotiate class size and composition with the BC Teachers Federation gives “certainty.”
The Court said the BC Government failed to bargain in good faith with the BCTF for 15 years.
deJong says today’s decision will mean the Province and the BCTF will enter into discussions on how class size and composition can be accomplished and that those discussions will get underway without delay. “I think we want to roll up our sleeves and get to work immediately. We have the benefit now of a final determination by the highest Court in Canada, so we would like to get to work to implement it as quickly as possible.”.
deJong says it is important to note that the Court said legislative intervention could be allowed under certain circumstances, but that in this case, the circumstances did not warrant the legislated change which removed the right to negotiate class size and composition from the BCTF.
“The six-year collective agreement we reached with the BCTF in 2014 included an agreement on the process that both the employer and union would follow when the Supreme Court gave a verdict. The collective agreement remains in place, and the employer and the BCTF will now meet to discuss how we move forward to address this aspect of the ruling.”
deJong is not able at this point to provide any ballpark figures on what the financial impact of the ruling may be, but says the Province hopes to have the discussions soon, so that “We will be in a much better position to responsibly reflect our preparations for a balanced budget in 2017.”
He is not able to say how many more teachers may be hired or if there would be any interim measures put in place before the stat of the next school year. Those issues will likely be the focus of the negotiations with the BCTF.
The final figures for the costs of this ongoing legal battle are not yet available, but de Jong says “It’s not cheap, but it’s important that these principles be considered. They have applications in labour negotiations for government right across Canada.”