Clark: teachers’ deal must be fair

PANORAMA RIDGE – Standing in a Surrey school Friday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark spoke of the latest developments in the ongoing dispute with the province’s teachers.


Clark was in Surrey to promote an anti-bullying campaign along with Education Minister Peter Fassbender, (see story and photos online) but answered reporters’ questions about the current state of the negotiations with the BCTF.


"In all negotiations with public sector we want to be fair and make sure the agreements are affordable. We have come to agreements that are fair and affordable with a third of the public service now and I hope that teachers will be part of that group soon," said Clark.


"We are negotiating and we haven’t seen an offer yet from the teachers’ union, so once we get that we can start to negotiate in earnest.


"All of the agreements need to be fair to the public sector employees we’re negotiating with but also affordable for taxpayers because ultimately all the wages paid by government are paid by people who pay their taxes every single year in this province."


If the districts are forced to adhere to the 2002 classroom size language, it could cost the Surrey school district alone more than $40 million in new hires and classroom splitting.


Clark also touched on the recent stay of proceedings decision in the appeal of a Supreme Court ruling that said the province had violated the charter of rights when it stripped the provision from the teachers’ contracts in 2002.


Asked about when that might be resolved, Clark said the government was not in control of the courts and timing.


"This last case really started in 2002, so the courts take their time as they need to do to come to the right decisions and see how long it takes," she said. "There’s a strong case to be made for work government has done. We’re willing to put forward all the arguments we need to to make sure students, children are at the centre of every decision we make with education."


And Clark said that at the end of the day, her government’s position is that this is all for the students.


"One of the reasons we’re in court is because we need to protect the interests of students," she said.


"The problem we’ve had over the years with education is that many governments of many political stripes, the adults on each side of the table forget that we’re doing this for the children."