Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Mediation with teachers likely to fail, says MLA

The British Columbia government will be back in the legislature this summer to impose a collective agreement on the province's teachers, independent MLA Bob Simpson predicted.

"I believe that the June 30 deadline is so that July and August can be provided to the government to recall this House in August and to impose a legislated agreement before September 1," Simpson said March 14 during debate of Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act. "That's really what the agenda is here."

The bill introduced by Education Minister George Abbott imposes a "cooling off period" to Aug. 31, 2012, on the negotiations between the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers' Association. It allows for a mediator to be appointed, but restricts what may be negotiated.

Key issues are taken off the table, including class size, class composition and the government's net-zero policy that doesn't allow for wage increases unless savings are found elsewhere.

The mediator is to report back to the education minister by June 30, 2012.

Simpson asked, "If this does not work, will the government's final response be an imposed collective agreement before the next school year?"

"We hope that the parties will come to an agreement," said Abbott. "We hope . . . the mediator is able to assist the parties to reach a mediated settlement. I can tell the member, though, that I would not be prepared, as a Minister of Education, to see the same challenges imposed on the class of 2012-2013 in terms of labour disruption of their school year as has been imposed on the class of 2011-2012."

Earlier he had said he's optimistic a deal will be reached through mediation. "For me, the cup is always half full, particularly if the liquid in the cup is wine," he said. "So here I'd want to say that, you know, the commitment of the parties is going to be important, but again, I believe they can do it."

The bill is scheduled to pass late this afternoon with the government having moved earlier this week to end debate on it and make it law.

A BCTF statement released a few hours ahead of when the bill was scheduled to pass condemned the "negative impact" of the legislation. "Teachers know that this government’s so-called Education Improvement Act is going to have the opposite effect in our classrooms throughout the province," it quoted BCTF President Susan Lambert saying. "Bill 22 hurts students and attacks teachers’ rights. It will only make working and learning conditions worse."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus