Client Alert – BC Teachers Back in Court Over Bill 22

The BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) were back in BC Supreme Court the week of September 9 fighting the BC government’s implementation of Bill 22 – the Education Improvement Act.  Passed at the end of the school year in 2012, the legislation suspended the teachers’ ability to strike, instead imposing a “cooling off” period.

The case has important implications for all of our clients as it will represent the latest judicial pronouncement on constitutional protection for collective bargaining and the right to strike.

The BCTF is arguing that the legislation ignores the Supreme Court’s decision in 2011 which found that the BC government ignores the impact of the victory secured by the teachers that gave constitutional recognition to their bargaining rights.  The courts have previously confirmed a right in the BCTF to bargain class size, composition and teacher-student ratios.

The effect of Bill 22, contends the BCTF, was to suspend those rights during a so-called “cooling off period” provided by the legislation.

BCTF President Jim Iker was quoted last week, saying: “The BCTF is now seeking a remedy for our 2011 victory and will also argue that the government’s 2012 legislation, Bill 22, was unconstitutional.”

In the meantime, the teachers’ collective agreement expired at the end of the 2013 school year.   Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume again next month.