01/05/2017 10:20 EST | Updated 01/05/2017 10:20 EST

B.C. Teachers Court Ruling: Province Announces $50 Million To Fund Up To 1,100 New Teachers

The money is a first instalment.

VANCOUVER - Money will be made available to immediately hire about 1,100 teachers in British Columbia after a Supreme Court of Canada decision last year ruled in favour of the teachers' union.

The British Columbia government said Thursday it is providing $50 million as a first instalment for new teachers in an agreement with the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

The government said the funding will go towards hiring additional teachers and specialty teachers, including speech-language pathologists and behaviour intervention specialists, aboriginal support specialists and counsellors.

A 2016 court decision ended a long legal battle over class-size bargaining rights for B.C. teachers.

The Supreme Court ruled in November that a law imposed by the province that blocked teachers' ability from bargaining class sizes was unconstitutional.

The decision ended a 14-year legal battle over bargaining rights for B.C.'s teachers that began when the province imposed legislation that blocked discussions of class size and composition in 2002.

The funding is in addition to the $100 million learning improvement fund that the government already put in place last year to help hire more teachers and education assistants.

The government said in a news release that the measures were hammered out this week between the province, the B.C. Public School Employers Association and the teachers' union, and is the first step in responding to the Supreme Court ruling.

It said negotiations continue on the restored collective-agreement provisions.

'Positive negotiations'

Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a news release that the new funding will help kick-start changes that are required after the court's decision.

"While the positive negotiations continue, we're going to keep focused on solutions that work for kids in their classrooms," he said.

"The work to repair the damage to public education has only just begun."

— Glen Hansman, BCTF president

Union president Glen Hansman said the $50-million funding is just the first step.

"The second and most important goal — full implementation of the 2002 collective agreement language — will now be the focus of talks between the two parties," he said in a statement.

Hansman said it's going to take a much higher investment to undo the damage the government has done to a generation of students.

"It has been almost 15 years to the day since then-education minister Christy Clark first brought in the unconstitutional legislation. The work to repair the damage to public education has only just begun."

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