News / Calgary

Canadian Taxpayers Federation calls for 10% pay cut for Alberta teachers

The organization is questioning why Alberta teachers still see salary increases as they move forward in their careers after a pay freeze was announced in April

Colin Craig, Canadian Taxpayers Federation interim Alberta director, says that the teacher's pay freeze isn't accounting for automatic pay increases and will actually be costly to the province's taxpayers.

Jennifer Friesen / Calgary Freelance

Colin Craig, Canadian Taxpayers Federation interim Alberta director, says that the teacher's pay freeze isn't accounting for automatic pay increases and will actually be costly to the province's taxpayers.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has called for a 10 per cent pay cut for all provincial government employees after questioning whether or not the teacher’s pay freeze is truly a pay freeze after all.

Earlier this year, the Alberta government announced a two-year wage freeze for teachers, but the CTF says automatic pay increases have been “buried” in salary grids.

Through freedom of information requests from the Calgary Board of Education and Edmonton Public Schools, the CTF released documents on Wednesday that they say prove that pay increases will cost taxpayers an estimated $200-million within the next two years

Through the salary grid system, the Calgary Board of Education said increases for teachers in the current school year total just over $14.6 million, while the increase for Edmonton Public Schools total just over $11.4 million.

"It's anything but a pay freeze," said Colin Craig, CTF interim Alberta director. "It's important for taxpayers to understand that."

However, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) disagrees, noting that both school boards say in the impact on taxpayers is $0.

“The Canadian Taxpayers Federation lacks credibility,” the ATA said in a statement. “Today’s release specifically and intentionally ignores the most significant bits of data contained within the freedom of information releases.”

Through the salary grid system, the ATA says that for every teacher that retires or resigns, it makes room for 10 more teachers to move ahead in the grid without altering the budget.

“The net cost to taxpayers is zero,” the statement continued. “The vast majority of teachers have had no salary increases in five of the past six years. While the cost of living in Alberta has risen by 10 per cent, most teachers’ salaries have only risen two per cent.”

But Craig maintains that the “fiscally responsible” decision for the province would be to implement at 10 per cent pay cut for all government employees during the current economic climate.

“Our concern is not with rank-and-file teachers,” he said. “It’s with the provincial government, who are not exercising true restrain to actually get the deficit under control.”

Craig added that Alberta teachers would still be making more than those in Vancouver, even with the pay cut, and he believes that the government has to make tough decisions in order to “be fair to the taxpayer.”

“We’re broke,” he said. “It’s very unethical to keep taking the bill for services provided today and just hand it off to the next generation.”

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