Legal News

B.C. changes to key education statutes

Employers in the school sector in B.C. should be aware that a Bill making changes to key legislation underpinning the sector was passed by the legislature last week and has now received royal assent.

The Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 includes amendments to the School Act and the Independent School Act, as well as minor consequential amendments to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. In introducing the changes, the Minister of Education identified the four main purposes as being to:

  1. clarify the authority to issue provincial graduation certificates to students of First Nation Schools, and promote equity amongst all students in British Columbia to continue to move forward towards reconciliation; including by supporting the implementation of the British Columbia Tripartite Education Agreement;
  2. enable boards of education to offer before- and after-school child care directly, rather than through a separate licensed provider, to support the government’s broader child care goals and policies, and to generally increase affordability;
  3. authorize the issuance of personal education numbers before children formally start school, to support evidence-based policy decisions, and to enable preparation for capacity and enrolment; and
  4. support the implementation of the Ministry’s K-12 funding review project to enhance K-12 funding. These are intended to modernize provisions of the School Act and Independent School Act relating to online learning (formerly distributed learning) to support a new streamlined delivery model, improve boards’ financial governance and management practices, and repeal provisions relating to the Learning Improvement Fund which is no longer operational.

The amendments will come into effect in a piecemeal fashion, with some changes taking effect immediately, and others occurring on July 1, 2020 or July 1, 2021. Those taking effect immediately include:

  • The ability to issue provincial graduation certificates to students of First Nation Schools has been clarified by amending section 168(6)(c) of the School Act by striking out “on First Nation land by a participating First Nation” and substituting simply “by a first nation”.
  • Boards of education have been given the power and authority to offer before and after-school child care directly, rather than through a separate licenced provider, although these programs must be revenue neutral.
  • Personal education numbers may now be issued to children before they formally start school.

The full text of the Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 can be found here.

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