Debate on Bill 33

May 10th Committee of the Whole House debates on Bill 33, EDUCATION (LEARNING ENHANCEMENT) STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2006

John Horgan of the NDP Introduced a series of amendments that would have:

  • replaced special needs caps with a weighting formula for
    calculating class sizes,

  • limited sizes of special ed classes
  • factored in ESL and other learning challenges
  • funded the proposed changes

These amendments would have gone a long way toward addressing concerns raised by parents and other education partners. However, the Minister stated that such amendments would add too much to the cost of public education.

Rising in the house on a point of order, House Leader. M. de Jong, had the amendments ruled out of order as they would cause the crown to incur an charge. Here is the full statement as reported in Hansard:

Hon. M. de Jong: The issue that I think the Chair has to be cognizant of is, whilst on the surface the difference between “consult” and “consent” is obviously significant, to the extent that we are dealing with imposing a charge on the Crown, the difference may be particularly significant.
I am certain that the language was chosen carefully here — and it may be language that members opposite disagree with — but in the case of consult, there are obviously different ramifications than requiring the consent. Consent implies that it could be withheld, and, in that circumstance, there would be, obviously, financial implications that flow from having to reconfigure classes.
I think I understand the point that members are trying to make around the amendment, but the rule that I believe the Chair has to be cognizant of is that proposed amendments cannot impose a charge, or the prospects of a charge, being imposed upon the Crown. I’m sure members have thoughts on that, and we might deal with that first.

Read full draft transcript of debate here ( pdf file) Original Hansard records can be found here

One thought on “Debate on Bill 33

  1. David Livingstone Elementary PAC discussed Bill 33 at our PAC meeting last night.

    Our principal agreed that class size limits wouldn’t be a major issue for our school next year (because Vancouver has already limited elementary class sizes), but that class composition limits would be, with about 15 students (unevenly distributed) in our 4 intermediary grades. He said this is actually better than many other Vancouver schools.

    In working out annual class assignments, our staff seeks balance/best match between teacher/ student/classroom, which doesn’t mean even distribution of labelled kids. We’re fortunate to have a strong commitment to inclusion and to thinking outside the box to meet the needs of our very diverse students, so they’re often grouped differently for LA, math* and other subjects. But the S/N limits in Bill 33 may impinge on what’s actually best for the students now. Further, without added resources, honouring the S/N caps would probably also mean cutting a non-enrolling teacher who supports ESL, grey area and special needs students, thus making things even worse, so it’s just not going to happen in our case. Our school is over 80% ESL and Bill 33’s failure to address these learning challenges was also identified as a major flaw. Our teacher rep added that they had not discussed implications or taken a staff position on Bill 33 but she shared concerns about overly-simplistic solutions to a complex issue, which was the consensus of the meeting.

    With Bill 33 seemingly a done deal, I suggested careful tracking to document changes, or lack thereof, to class size/composition concerns over the next year. It was also agreed to launch a letter writing campaign in the short term calling on the Ministry to fund Bill 33, and to monitor the actual effects of Bill 33 for follow-up advocacy once it’s clear what actually happens.

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