More than 500 Nelsonites marched down Baker Street on Tuesday as part of the Parents Etc. for Public Education March 2014.

More than 500 Nelsonites marched down Baker Street on Tuesday as part of the Parents Etc. for Public Education March 2014.

B.C.’s legal battle with teachers’ unions cost $2.6M

Epic feud lasted 15 years and went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada

The provincial government’s 15-year legal fight with the B.C. teachers’ union cost taxpayers $2.6 million in legal fees, according to the ministry of education.

A ministry statement breaks it down to $900,000 spent on external lawyers and $1.7 million on staff lawyers.

The feud, which began with a court ruling in 2002 that said the government’s removal of class size and support staff rules from the B.C. Teachers Federation contract was unconstitutional, went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The top court ruled in the teachers’ favour in November.

Earlier this month, the province announced it had reached an interim settlement with the union, including a $50-million fund to hire up to 1,100 teachers for the current school year. The agreement has yet to be ratified.

“What is important now is that we are at the table with the BCTF talking about how to ensure we are dealing with the complexities that came out of the court’s decision, and to ensure we come up with an agreement that offers the best path forward for students,” Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a statement.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation believes that while the province ultimately lost, their right to fight the battle was important.

“You never love seeing taxpayer money flow to lawyers, but some of the principles that the government was standing up for, especially its ability to make its own priorities, were important,” said B.C. director Jordan Bateman.

“While the Supreme Court ultimately decided against the B.C. government, the Court of Appeal had sided with them, showing there was certainly legitimate legal questions that needed to be settled.”

The $2.6 million in legal fees breaks down to about $173,300 annually over the course of 15 years. In comparison, the City of Surrey spent about $1.96 million in total legal fees in 2015, while the City of Nanaimo spent $582,000.

The fees could have been used to hire 57 teachers, using the government’s formula of $50 million to hire as many as 1,100 teachers, or about $45,500 per teacher. With 60 school districts in B.C., that’s just under one teacher per district.

 

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Most Read