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B.C. teachers slam decision to appeal

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker.

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Accepting a B.C. Supreme Court decision ordering Victoria to pay $2 million to teachers, and accept class sizes and composition into bargaining talks, would be “completely unaffordable for taxpayers,” Education Minister Peter Fassbender said Tuesday.

Fassbender said government would be appealing Justice Susan Griffin’s decision handed down in late January. The decision found government bargained in bad faith with teachers, and also attempted to provoke the B.C. Teachers’ Federation into striking to make political gains.

It would have also reinstated bargaining provisions first removed in 2002.

“The judge has her interpretation of what she saw and what she heard. We disagree with that,” Fassbender told reporters.

“This government’s policy is not to provoke disruption and disunity, it’s about collaboration and co-operation.”

Jim Iker, BCTF president, said the appeal was “entirely predictable,” adding that the Ministry of Education and Premier Christy Clark were acting against “stability” in schools.

“British Columbians should be angry,” Iker said.

“Christy Clark is saying no to smaller classes, no to increased support for students with special needs, and no to extra help for all kids.”

Fassbender insisted he is “not declaring war” and that he does want to find stability.

He presented figures saying the average class sizes in the province are at historical lows — though student enrolment has declined by 9.4% in 13 years.

Iker, however, countered by saying British Columbia’s education funding is well below the national average. 

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