B.C. government wins appeals over B.C. Teachers Federation

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Classroom bctf education teachers teacher strike school / shutterstock

Today marked two big wins for the provincial government in the case over teachers’ rights to bargain over class size and composition.

A special five-member B.C. Court of Appeal panel has found the province’s Education Improvement Act, otherwise known as Bill 28, did not infringe on teachers’ charter rights to freedom of association.

In its 4-1 decision, B.C.’s top court also ruled the province did not act in bad faith when it put that legislation into place.

By tossing out the ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin, the appeal court has ruled teachers’ rights were respected through various consultations with the B.C. Teachers Federation and collective bargaining that led up to the legislation being introduced.

In this ruling, the province also won another battle with the BCTF over the release of cabinet documents. The appeal court ruled unanimously it was not right for the lower court to make a ruling allowing for the release of those confidential documents.

Under court rules, the BCTF has sixty days to apply to the Supreme Court of Canada. If they do that, Canada’s highest court has to decide whether to hear that appeal. Out of 80 applications from B.C. made to the Supreme Court of Canada last year, only eight were heard.

Today’s decision was co-authored by B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman, and B.C. Court of Appeal Justice David Harris.

The dissenting opinion came from B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Ian Donald, who happens to be a former labour lawyer.

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