Monthly Archives: January 2014

Update Court Decision and General Meeting

Hi Folks,

The Court Case

You might have noticed a few items in the media about a certain court ruling that is widely being seen as a win for teachers.  For once the media seem to have gotten it right.  It was a win – it was huge.  Had I been a betting person, (perish the thought) I would have lost a whole bunch of money on this court ruling.  I simply did not believe it was possible. 

A brief review of time lines:

  • January 2002 –  our Collective Agreements were stripped of all class size and composition provisions by then education minister Christy Clark.
  • We subsequently challenged the government’s ability to introduce such legislation.  This was after the HEU won their court challenge at the Supreme Court of Canada over the same legislation.
  • April 2011 – Justice Griffin rules in favour of teachers and says, in fact, the government did violate our charter rights.  Gives the government one year to remedy the situation. 
  • March 2012 – After a fruitless year of discussions/bargaining with government about the court ruling, the liberal government passes Bill 22.  This essentially reinstates all of the provisions of Bill 28 that were ruled to be unconstitutional.  We actually do reach a bargaining settlement in June 2012 with the help of a mediator.
  • We return to court and say the government remedies of Bill 22 do not meet the requirements set out in Justice Griffin’s ruling.
  • January 28, 2014 (coincidentally? The 12th anniversary of Bill 28) – Justice Griffin renders a second decision.  And, to put it mildly, she is not amused.  The government is found to have violated our charter rights – twice.  The government and a number of their officials are absolutely pilloried.  Their strategy to attempt to provoke a strike so they could have public support to legislate concessions is severely criticized.  Even more, Justice Griffin affirmed a democratic right to collective bargaining and the right of each side to expect bargaining in good faith.
  • She awards the BCTF costs plus $2 million in damages.  Most importantly she resets the clock to 2002 and says the stripped language is restored.

A very informative summary of the decision, by BCTF legal counsel, Diane MacDonald, can be found at the following link:

It makes very interesting reading – and, for once, quite enjoyable.


The ruling says that the stripped language from 2002 is restored.  If this actually does come about it could have a huge impact across the province.  Locally the restored language will have an impact, but less so than in some other districts.  Mostly the impact would be at the primary level.

Any primary class with more than 22 students could be impacted.  This would include split classes including 3/4 splits.  Any straight K class with more than 20 and any K/1 split with more than 17 could be affected.

The class size provision in our restored language for 4-12 classes is 30.  According to district reports they have not exceeded this number for any 4-12 class.  This will take a bit of checking.

Any intermediate split (from grades 4-7) above 27 could be affected.

There is also a provision, “where safety is a factor in a lab, shop or other specialized classroom, the number shall not exceed the number for which the facility is designed”  With shop classes, this usually was a limit of 24.  So, shop classes of more than 24 could be affected.

Also, of real importance, is the restoration of the “Remedy” language for any class exceeding the limits after October 15th.   If class size is exceeded then there are provisions for class size reduction, additional prep time, other professional support, or some mutually agreed resolution.  This would be quite important.

The restoration would also see the return of our ‘Mainstreaming and Integration’ language.

The other important item is the restoration of the non-enrolling ratios.  They were / are:

  • Teacher Librarians                  1:563
  • Counsellors                           1:693
  • Learning Assistance         1:450
  • Special Ed. Resource          1:220
  • ESL                                     1 for every 33 identified students

These are meant to be calculated on a district wide basis.  After a very quick look, and there does need to be some closer scrutiny, the district meets and/ or exceeds these non-enrolling numbers.  That is not the case in many districts.

We will try and provide a link to all of the stripped provisions later next week.

Now, having said all of this, it remains likely the government will appeal the decision.  What is not clear yet, is what happens to the restored language while that appeal is under way.  There will be a presentation of the decision this weekend at the BCTF RA.  There should be more information after that.

General Meeting Report

A big thank you to Glen Hansman,, BCTF 1st Vice President, for the presentation on the bargaining action plan.  This action plan and the timing of some votes will be debated this weekend as well.  Once a course of action has been decided, I will send out more information. 

I will try and visit as many school staffs as I can in the next few weeks to go over the action plan.  If there is a particular date that would work best for your staff, please let me know.

Canadian Labour Congress – May 5-9, 2014 – Montreal

The BCTF subsidizes the travel and expenses for one member per local to attend the CLC convention every three years.  This year it will take place in Montreal.  Our General Meeting passed a motion to choose a VINTA member to represent the Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association at this year’s convention.

If you are interested in representing VINTA at the CLC convention in Montreal, please come to the next general Meeting.
Meeting time – To Be Announced.

Thanks folks.  It is good to enjoy a ruling that actually supports students, teachers and public education!!!



Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

BC Supreme Court: A huge win for teachers, students, and all working people

January 27, 2014

BC Supreme Court: A huge win for teachers, students, and all working people

In a landmark decision today, the BC Supreme Court reaffirmed that Bill 22 is unconstitutional. The ruling also restored hundreds of collective agreement provisions—such as class size, class composition, and minimum specialist staffing ratios—which were stripped in 2002. Justice Susan Griffin also ordered the province to pay the BCTF $2 million in damages plus court costs.

BCTF President Jim Iker noted that the unconstitutional legislation has done significant damage to public education in BC: 200 schools closed, 3,500 teaching positions cut, and students’ learning needs not met.

“I want to acknowledge that without the professionalism and commitment of teachers across this province, the impact would have been much worse,” Iker said. “Teachers have worked together to bridge the gaps and to do more with less every year. It’s an amazing testimony to your skill and dedication to your students. Thank you!”

Iker added: “It’s so great that the judgment comes today, exactly 12 years after then-Education Minister Christy Clark rose in the Legislature and announced how delighted she was to introduce Bills 27 and 28.”

Iker said that more information will be sent to schools as soon as the BCTF completes a full analysis of the lengthy judgment. To read the full document, click here:

General Meeting reminder – Eagle View – Wednesday, January 22nd, 5p.m. – supper served

Hi Folks,

A little reminder of our General Meeting at Eagle View tomorrow at 5 p.m. We will have supper available at the meeting beginning at 4:30.

I have mentioned this is a very important meeting. Glen Hansman, BCTF 1st Vice President will be attending the meeting, and we will be discussing the state of provincial bargaining!

We are facing a difficult situation with provincial bargaining. The government is refusing to agree to any bargaining dates after February 19th. This is after the Legislative session begins and before the budget is introduced.

Our provincial Rep. Assembly will be debating a Bargaining Action Plan on January 31st and February 1st. The action plan addresses a number of actions available to us in the very near future. Shawn Gough and I will be attending the Rep. Assembly in Vancouver. Please attend and make your voice heard.

We will also be electing our additional delegate to the BCTF AGM in March, and a delegate to the CLC convention in Montreal in May.

Hope to see you there..


Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

School Board Meeting Update

Hi Folks,

The regular School Board meeting was held at the School Board office on Monday evening.
As we know, Katherine McIntosh has accepted the Superintendent’s position in Coast Mountain School District. At the meeting everyone, including teachers, thanked Katherine for her work in SD 85 and wished her well with the new job. The School Trustees announced they plan to conduct a search for a new Assistant Superintendent.

I made the point on behalf of teachers that the critical work of a school district takes place in schools, specifically in classrooms, and that is where district resources need to be focused.

The Trustees also discussed the calendar for the next few years. The proposed 2014-15 school calendar will be the regular school calendar that we have seen in past years.

For subsequent years the Trustees might consult with employee groups, parents and community about possible changes to the school calendar in years to come. We will probably see more about this next year.

One of the trustees had a concern with the school-based in-service day scheduled for Monday September 14th. The concern was that it was too close to the start of school. The suggestion was made that the in-service day be moved to Tuesday September 2, our first day back, and that school begin for students on Wednesday, September 3rd. The assumption was that the 3rd would be a short day and the first full day for students would be Thursday, September 4th.

It sounded like a reasonable idea to me, and to everyone else around the table. I said I would consult with teachers in the district. We will put it on the agenda for our General meeting on Wednesday January 22nd.

See you there,


Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

Pro-D – Professional Reading Incentive

Professional Reading Incentive
Hello Everyone!

The VINTA Pro-D Committee would like to buy you a book for Christmas!

Last year the School Board had a surplus in the LIF account. VINTA and the Board agreed to have this surplus, of approximately $15 000, transferred to the Pro-D fund. A large portion of these funds will be used for the District Pro-D Day, but the VINTA Pro-D Committee also passed a motion to encourage some professional reading. The motion allows for all teachers, including TTOC’s, to purchase a book for professional reading up to $40. This is above and beyond your individual Pro-D funds of $600.

We are also asking members to bring the book to the District Pro-D Day in February. The Pro-D Committee will schedule about an hour for table discussions to share the variety of books. We’re hoping that each member will take about 5-10 minutes to share the book they read with 5-6 other colleagues. Some members may even want to swap books?

To be reimbursed for your book, just complete a yellow Pro-D Form and check off the professional materials box and in the description area write: “Professional Reading Incentive.” Please return the form and receipt to the VINTA Office by February 14th.

If you have any questions, please email me or call the VINTA Office (250-949-8888).

Happy Reading!


Kevin Ogren
VINTA Pro-D Chair

FSA tests and General Meeting note

Hi Folks,

Happy New Year!

FSA tests

We know it is the New Year because grade 4 and grade 7 students are again being asked to write FSA tests. Our concerns with these tests are long standing. Among other issues, the tests detract from valuable class time and the use of the data by the fraser institute is ill-informed, and quite simply wrong.

There is an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA that establishes a process for teachers to inform parents of our concerns. Essentially this entails grade 4 and 7 teachers sending home the information in an envelope that identifies it as coming from the union.

These envelopes and pamphlets are currently being dropped off with grade 4 and 7 teachers. You may receive some questions from parents about our concerns. Please take a moment and talk about our concerns with these tests. Feel free to refer any one to the VINTA office. 250-949-8888.

This is a link to the pamphlet we are sending to the parents of grade 4 and grade 7 students.

General Meeting – Wed. Jan. 22nd, 5:00 p.m. Eagle View gym.

We have a General Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 22nd, at 5:00 p.m. at Eagle View School. We will have the meeting catered so there will be something to eat.

Glen Hansman, BCTF first Vice President, will be attending the meeting.

This would be a really good meeting to attend. Glen will bring an update of provincial bargaining, and an outline of the Provincial Bargaining Action Plan being recommended to the BCTF Representative Assembly on January 31st. The action plan we adopt at the BCTF RA will involve a number of very key activities. The more information folks share about this, the more informed a decision could be made. Shawn and I will be attending that BCTF RA. It is important to have local input before we attend.

Talk to you soon,

Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)

See what the BCTF would like parents to know about the FSA… Click Here