02/26/2014 01:16 EST | Updated 04/28/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. Court of Appeal grants delay of smaller class sizes

The B.C. Court of Appeal has granted the provincial government an injunction delaying the implementation of smaller class sizes pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

The government argued immediately implementing smaller class sizes, as the B.C. Supreme Court ordered in January, could cost the government as much as a billion dollars. It also argued that cabinet documents used during the trial should remain secret.

The B.C. New Democrats have alleged those documents show the government tried to deliberately provoke a teacher's strike.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal granted the government both its requests. It has ordered a stay of the B.C. Supreme Court's class size ruling until the government's appeal is heard. The court accepted the province's argument that there were serious issues to be tried, and the government would suffer irreparable financial harm if smaller class sizes were to be implemented before the appeal could be heard.

Smaller classes "unaffordable," says province

In January, the B.C. Supreme Court fined the provincial government $2 million for refusing to comply with its decision that government legislation stripping teachers of certain collective bargaining rights was illegal and unconstitutional. At the time, it also ordered the province to immediately reinstate former class sizes.

But the government argued the ruling was "completely unaffordable" for taxpayers, requiring thousands of new teachers to accommodate smaller class size limits. It argued the court's order would create "huge disruptions" in schools and prevent districts from providing the right mix of supports for students.

One affidavit from the Surrey School District alone said restoring the 1998 class sizes and compositions would mean hiring 445 new teachers at a cost of $40 million per year.