In introducing Bill 18 for first reading in the BC Legislature, Minister of Labour Graham Bruce made the following statement:
“Mr. Speaker, this bill puts children first. It will restore education as an essential service under the Labour Code to ensure that no child’s right to an education is denied during school strikes and lockouts.”
In a news release, the Minister of Labour is quoted as saying:
“This legislation restores the essential service designation for education that was removed by the previous government in 1993. Fundamentally, it is about ensuring that no child’s right to education takes a back seat to a labour dispute. No child’s right to education should be denied during school strikes and lockouts. More than four million student days have been lost due to labour disputes in the past 10 years. Our children should not have to pay the price if teachers or school support staff and school boards are not able to resolve their differences.”
The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has is sued a news release describing this action as a “provocative move that will create confrontation.” A BC Public School Employers Association news release points out that this is not the first time essential service laws have applied in public schools.