EDMONTON — Alberta’s education minister says there won’t be massive cuts within the education system, but has hinted teachers’ wages may be up for discussion.
Dave Hancock spoke Friday to Alberta teachers at a conference, saying he wanted to clear up a few things about possible cuts.
Despite speculation about $300 million in cuts, Hancock says that won’t happen when the provincial budget is announced on Feb. 9.
He has insisted that any moves made following the budget will not impact the quality of education students receive in Alberta.
But the minister did admit a discussion about teachers’ wages may be in the near future.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association says teachers’ salaries aren’t up for negotiations until 2012, when the current five-year contract ends.
“Certainly we will have to talk to people who are paid from the public sector about how we bridge this period of time,” said Hancock.
“I wouldn’t say a wage freeze, but obviously as the premier said last fall, we need to be talking to the public sector, which means I need to be talking with teachers and others in the education sector about how we use the resources we have and what implications that has for wages,” Hancock said.
Carol Henderson, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, says teachers are not interested in a wage freeze or any other changes to their salaries.
“He floated the idea last fall and we were very clear that we were not interested in opening up collective agreements in the middle of a five-year agreement. It’s not a matter of discussion,” she said.
Teachers and the province are currently in arbitration over their last raise.
If the arbitrator rules teachers are owed a six-per- cent increase instead of the 4.82 per cent they received, it will cost the government an additional $23 million.