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UPDATED: Bargain don't appeal — Coquitlam Teacher's Association
The Coquitlam Teachers' Association's president says the province should return to the bargaining table with serious proposals instead of trying to rewrite history with its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision ordering a return to 2002 rules.
"Rather than deal with teachers, they are just 'catastrophizing' and playing politics," said Charley King. "What they need to do is get back to the bargaining table and sort this out."
King said he was disappointed at comments made by Education Minster Peter Fassbender about the recent Supreme Court decision on the validity of the Education Improvement Act, 2012.
Fassbender said he disagreed with the decision because it centred on the union's interests, not student needs, and was unaffordable, stating that the government planned to appeal the decision.
"It is the BCTF's job to defend its members' interests and has done so with passion and vigour. But it is government's responsibility to balance those interests against the best interests of students, their families, and the 4.6 million British Columbians who already invest nearly $5 billion into the K-12 education every year. That is why we will appeal Justice Griffin's decision," Fassbender stated in a press release.
But King said appeals are usually made on an error in law, not because someone doesn't like the decision.
King also said Victoria's position that it can't afford to accept the decision because of the cost shows the government has been underfunding education for years.
"It's a bit of an admission they are short-changing kids by hundreds of millions of dollars compared to prior to 2002."
Fassbender said the latest ruling could potentially cost the B.C. government more than $1 billion, which he called "completely unaffordable for taxpayers." But the appeal will focus on Justice Susan Griffin's interpretation of constitutional rights in union negotiations.
The BC Teachers' Federation, meanwhile, estimates that 600 teachers would have to be hired to bring B.C. class sizes up to the Canadian average.
BCTF's current contract expired in June.
— with files from Tom Fletcher