West Kelowna  

Ready to negotiate

She says she's glad it’s over.

Premier Christy Clark wants to get to work, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in favour of B.C. teachers on the right to bargain over class sizes.

“The thing we have always agreed on is we need to make sure that class sizes are the right size and there are enough special needs teachers to support kids,” said Clark.

Speaking in West Kelowna, Clark said the government is already working towards new funding to train and educate teachers on new curriculum, which is coming to B.C. classrooms after a $1-million plan was announced last year.

“We knew this was a possible outcome,” she said. “We are ready to sit down and negotiate that. We all want more special needs teachers in classrooms, and we all want to make sure classes are the right sizes for kids. So I am excited.”

However, she wants parents to know that the recently negotiated six-year agreement with teachers — the longest labour agreement in the province with teachers – is still in effect.

“All of that remains in place, classes won’t be disrupted,” explained Clark. “Parents and kids should rest easy (knowing) that this court decision means we will talk about two important clauses in the contract, but the contract remains in place.”

Clark says the government doesn’t know how much this decision will cost B.C. in the long run.

“The $1-million fund we have already set up is delivering a lot more teachers, and teacher assistants in the classroom,” said the premier. “So, we are going to sit down and talk to the teachers’ union about how we want to make it happen and how we want to do it together.”

Clark said there has been a major change in the relationship between teachers and the government since negotiations last year.

– with files from Wayne Moore

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