Finding of Charter violation leads to $2 million award against the B.C. government
Date: February 27, 2014
In British Columbia Teachers’ Federation v. British Columbia, the B.C. Supreme Court awarded $2 million in damages against the B.C. Government for its violation of the freedom of association guarantee found in section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter“).
The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (“BCTF”) successfully argued that legislation enacted by the Government dealing with teachers’ collective bargaining rights was nearly identical to prior legislation that had been struck down by the Court for being unconstitutional. More specifically, the earlier legislation was found to have prohibited collective bargaining with respect to various working conditions and to have deleted various collective agreement terms, thereby infringing the teachers’ freedom of association.
The Court agreed that the newly enacted legislation was virtually identical to the earlier legislation. It rejected the Government’s argument that it had engaged in good faith negotiations with the BCTF following the first declaration of invalidity, finding instead that these discussions were a strategy intended to “to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike”, thus allowing the Government to gather political support for the new legislation.
The Court noted that the $2 million in damages awarded under section 24(1) of the Charter would serve the goals of compensation, vindication and deterrence. The B.C. Government has filed a Notice of Appeal.
A more detailed discussion of this case can be found in our Case in Point blog post “British Columbia Supreme Court Awards $2 Million in Damages for Freedom of Association Violation.”