While Bill 6 has been the focus of many Albertans for the past week, it's not the only bill that the Alberta NDP Government has managed to fumble.
Bill 8, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act, is the bill that is intended to address how contracts with teachers will be bargained going forward. It is an absolutely necessary bill, thanks to the fact that teachers at all 61 school boards across the province see their contracts expire almost at exactly the same time. This came about thanks to former Premier Ed Stelmach and his agreement he reached province-wide with teachers back in 2008.
But the bill has a major hole; school boards. In fact, the bill has effectively cut school boards out of the process.
According to Bill 8, there will be two tables for negotiations; one for "central matters" that are discussed on a province-wide basis, and another for "local matters" that would be discussed between school boards and their local teachers. There is the matter, therefore, of what constitutes a "central matter" and what constitutes a "local matter".
But the school boards aren't involved in that conversation. Rather, the Government will be working with the Alberta Teachers' Association alone to determine what is central and what is local.
Democratically-elected school board officials are no longer permitted to advocate for local issues.
What's worse is the criteria, as set out by Bill 8, for determining what are central matters is all-encompassing. It states that if it would "unreasonably" impact even a single school board, it becomes a "central matter". No idea what could be considered unreasonable.
By definition, a local matter is something that affects only one board. Bill 8 attempts to redefine what "local" means.
This is hugely problematic.