MLA insists teachers have right to not volunteer for activities

Eric Foster says provincial legislation should be approved Thursday

While he is disappointed

While he is disappointed

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster isn’t criticizing teachers for pulling out of after-hours programs.

Teachers in the Vernon School District will withdraw from extracurricular activities to protest the government’s back-to-work legislation.

“It’s disappointing but it’s a volunteer thing and no one says teachers have to go beyond their contract,” said Foster of helping with sports teams and clubs.

“A lot of teachers feel bad but they have to do what they believe they have to do. My friends who are teachers don’t want to hurt students and they’re getting a lot of rhetoric from their union.”

The government’s legislation is expected to be adopted into law Thursday.

Under Bill 22, the government will be able to name a mediator to settle the dispute with the B.C. Teachers Association, but Victoria’s mandate of net-zero for  wages must be adhered to.

“Every other government union has settled for net-zero and the BCTF will have to do the same,” said Foster, adding the government is willing to discuss issues surrounding class size and composition.

Foster says the government had no choice but to bring debate of the bill to an end because the NDP opposition was grandstanding.

“They asked how much the government and union spent on sandwiches (at meetings). It’s a total waste of time,” he said.

“Get up and ask questions. Bring forward constructive amendments and we’ll look at them. Just don’t say something over and over again.”

The official opposition defends its actions in the Legislature.

“This bill gives up on the future, gives up on the possibility of doing it better, gives up on our public schools,” said Adrian Dix, NDP leader, in the House.

“We will not support legislation that hurts class size provisions. We will not support legislation that hurts class composition provisions. We will not support legislation that puts an end to real mediation and imposes a disrespectful process on teachers.”