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B.C. teacher approve deal with province, end 15-year-long bargaining battle

  - Black Press files.
— image credit: Black Press files.

Teachers across British Columbia have voted to accept a deal with the provincial government and end a 15-year battle over bargaining rights.

The union representing teachers issued a release Friday night saying more than 21,000 educators voted on an agreement about class size and composition, with more than 98 per cent casting ballots in favour of the deal.

Union president Glen Hansman says in a statement that B.C. schools are now on the verge of having better working and learning conditions in place.

Details have not yet been released about what the agreement includes.

The announcement comes months after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a provincial law that blocked teachers' ability to bargain on class size was unconstitutional.

At the time of the court ruling, Hansman had estimated it would cost between $250 and $300 million per year to bring in the additional resources.

The ruling restored language to a previous 2002 agreement, however a statement from the provincial government said details needed to be negotiated because the education system has evolved and changed since then.

Hansman said the agreement will see all the substantive working conditions that were stripped away brought back.

"With our restored language in effect, BC schools, students, and teachers will see significant improvements in class sizes, support levels for children with special needs, and access to specialist teachers this September," he said.

He warned, however, that teachers cannot forget what has happened, and must now shift to holding the government accountable for funding the new agreement.

"All eyes will be on the BC Liberal government this March and April to ensure the necessary funds materialize," Hansman said.

The Canadian Press

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