Finance Minister Michael de Jong issued the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling regarding the relationship between the Charter-protected process of collective bargaining and government’s pursuit of public-policy objectives that impact working conditions.
“We welcome the direction from the Supreme Court, as it addresses uncertainty in labour relations.
“The 2014 collective bargaining agreement was the longest agreement achieved with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) in B.C. history and it brought labour peace and stability to our classrooms.
"I would like to assure students, parents, teachers and employees in the education system that this stability continues, and this ruling does not bring disruption to classrooms.
“This was a ruling about the appropriate process to be followed in labour relations and the importance of constitutionally compliant consultation that must take place.
“The Court has confirmed that governments have the ability to legislate amendments to collective agreements. However, the process to legislate specific amendments in Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act (2012), was flawed.
“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.
“Government assures all parents and students we continue to be focused on outcomes for students. We have one of the best education systems in the world; student outcomes have improved significantly over the past 15 years. We have also established added investments like the $100-million Learning Improvement Fund that involves classroom teachers in how to best meet the unique needs of their students and classrooms. We are committed to working constructively with the BCTF to keep making our classrooms better.”