Alberta, teachers reach tentative deal

EDMONTON — It appears that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Alberta government and the province’s teachers.

EDMONTON — It appears that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Alberta government and the province’s teachers.

Calgary Public Teachers president Frank Bruseker said he has not seen the details of the deal with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, but says a news conference is planned for Friday.

“There has been an offer made and there is something going forward,” Bruseker said in a telephone interview. “It’s a positive step, that’s for sure.”

Edmonton radio station CHED reported it’s a fou-year deal and it was offered to the association by the province earlier in the week.

A spokesman for Premier Alison Redford tweeted Thursday that it would be a “big day” in Calgary, where the premier is holding a news conference.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson would not confirm the deal, but alluded to Friday’s event.

“I think everybody has worked hard on this process, but we’re still working on it,” he said. “We’ll have more to tell you tomorrow.”

The development comes after a series of tense, often public negotiations between the government and the union representing the teachers.

The teacher’s last collective agreement ended Aug. 31.

They walked away from talks on a provincewide deal in December after the government rejected a four-year offer that included no wage increase in the first two years, one per cent in the third year and three per cent in the fourth year.

The association didn’t take kindly to Johnson’s veiled suggestions that a deal may be imposed on the teachers.

No job action was threatened, but labour strife was feared when there was no money included in last week’s provincial budget for solving the dispute.

The association had been negotiating separate deals with each of the province’s 62 school boards after talks broke down, but both sides had indicated they were open to restarting provincewide negotiations.

Alberta Education says teachers in the province are among the highest paid in Canada. A teacher with 10 years of experience earns an average of $92,300 a year.

NDP education critic Dave Eggen said it’s a good time for the province to get a deal done.

“This is the time and place to make a deal,” he said Thursday. “The teachers have given several years of zeros (wage increases) in exchange for improving classroom conditions, and considering the austerity budget that this government has, it would be foolish not to make a deal here and now.”