School specialists hired since 2018 remain outside NSTU — for now
Province granted a stay on arbitrator's ruling until judicial review is complete
Speech-language pathologists, school psychologists and other specialists hired since 2018 will continue to work outside the Nova Scotia Teachers Union when classes resume next month, although that could change.
A decision on Wednesday by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted a stay requested by the province's Education Department on implementing an arbitrator's ruling from 2019, which would put about 60 specialists in the union, until a judicial review on the matter can take place.
That judicial review is scheduled for October.
"I believe the implementation of the arbitrator's decision, particularly at this time, a little over 60 days before the judicial review, goes beyond mere inconvenience or some disruption or impracticability as suggested by the [union]," Justice Heather Robertson writes.
Department wants year-round services
The matter stems from a decision by the province in 2018 to no longer require specialists who are new hires to get a special teacher's certificate. Education Minister Zach Churchill has said the decision was made so new hires would be available to provide services to students and their families through the summer.
Union officials have countered that their members could offer services and work during summer months outside the school year, and that the unilateral change by the government amounted to an attack on their rights under the collective agreement.
Last November, an arbitrator agreed with the union, and ordered the new hires be added to the union, for them to be issued special teacher's certificates and for the government to cover the cost of retroactive union dues.
But rather than comply with the order, the government filed for a judicial review. That prompted the union to go to court to try to get a judge to enforce the arbitrator's ruling in the interim.
In Roberston's decision, she notes that several adjournments and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the hearing on the stay until earlier this month.
As such, she found that implementing the changes called for in the arbitrator's ruling now and then potentially having to reverse them following the judicial review would be far more disruptive to everyone involved — including students who receive specialist services — than leaving things the way they are now until the judicial review is complete.
MORE TOP STORIES