Teachers union and province begin long legal journey in Bill 75 fight
Dates will be set for a hearing on Bill 75 in December 2018
It will be more than a year before lawyers for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and provincial government set dates for a hearing on the constitutionality of Bill 75.
Premier Stephen McNeil's government passed the legislation last winter, ending a one-day teachers strike and imposing a contract on the province's 9,300 public school teachers.
On Thursday, lawyers for the two sides were in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court courtroom laying out a timeline for the process. Hearing dates will be set on Dec. 3, 2018. Between now and then the two sides will exchange documents, file affidavits and rebuttals, and conduct cross-examination on those documents.
Not 'run-of-the-mill case'
Gail Gatchalian, a lawyer representing the union, said the matter has sweeping implications.
"The legislation that we're challenging imposed a complete collective agreement, ended a right to strike and also curtailed the union's right to strike into the future, so it's a pretty important case," she said outside the courtroom.
Justice Robert Wright acknowledged as much in court, saying: "This is anything but a run-of-the-mill case."
More than one challenge
The crux of the union's position is the legislation and the government's action infringed on the sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allow for freedom of association and freedom of expression.
While the province's position won't be filed until the two sides return to court, Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly said officials with his government believe they are on firm legal footing because the union executive agreed to three separate collective agreements and recommended them to membership.
Despite those recommendations, members resoundingly voted them all down.
The teachers union is also part of a group of unions challenging Bill 148, legislation the Liberals used to impose a wage pattern on public sector workers.