EDITORIAL: Class warfare

The labour dispute between BC teachers and the provincial government have left everyone in limbo as classes scheduled to open

You expect students to be on edge at the prospect of returning to school – while parents breathe a quiet sigh of relief after a long summer.

But thanks to the ongoing labour dispute, our nerves are all a little frayed – as parents contemplate childcare arrangements, and the standoff between the BC Teachers Federation and the Ministry of Education shows every sign (as of this writing, at least) of dragging on.

Rather than celebrating a prolonged holiday, many students are impatient to get the inevitable return over with.

Compounding the confusion are union leaders who have underestimated the will of our elected officials, and mixed messages from Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who’s made it clear he has no interest in legislating teachers back to work.

Indeed, it appears his government, of all stakeholders, is the least concerned with finding a genuine solution. Why else would it sooner offer parents $40 per day to subsidize childcare, than provide what could be seen as a reasonable offer? This gesture – about equal to the estimated $12 million saved in the strike – is hard to reconcile with “where is the money coming from?” arguments he’s advanced.

People can also be forgiven for being confused by the ministry’s multiple pockets. The one in which it keeps $46 million in capital funds for last week’s re-announced planned Clayton North high school is not, we’re told, the same pocket in which it keeps funds for staff wages.

And we should definitely not interpret the timing of the announcement as a diversion; it’s merely “business as usual” at the ministry – though circumstances appear to be anything but.

Also overshadowing attempts to mediate the current dispute is the ongoing court case over Bill 28, with which the government, 12 years ago, eliminated teachers’ rights to negotiate class sizes and composition. It’s interesting the BC Liberals are proposing a new clause that would allow either side to opt out, should they be unhappy with the outcome of the court case. Given that the B.C. Supreme Court has twice found the government bargained in bad faith – a decision under appeal – it would appear only one party could ultimately benefit from such a clause.

Given the lack of movement on both sides of the bargaining table, students, parents and other taxpayers can be forgiven for wondering if it’s the so-called leaders who should first be returning to class.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service to begin public consultation late June, early July

Community input, chief constable says, ‘will occur’

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard 
to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. at south end of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

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

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read