CALGARY — Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock says he's prepared to stand his ground over wage increases for teachers.
The province announced last week that school instructors will be getting a raise of just under five per cent. The government imposed the increase after months of wrangling over a formula used to determine salaries.
The Alberta Teachers' Association calculates the increase should be at least six per cent - a difference of $23 million - and has said it will take the province to arbitration if necessary.
"If one side invokes a process, the other side has to be there to defend themselves," he said Monday.
Alberta teachers have a deal with the government that guarantees five years of labour peace in exchange for annual wage adjustments based on average earnings in the province.
The deal is tied to the Statistics Canada average weekly earnings index, but the national agency recently changed its method of calculating the figure, and that's where the dispute began.
Hancock says everyone needs to work together to figure out how to slice $80 million from the education budget.
"I'll be sitting down with school boards, with the ATA, with the parents association and with other stakeholders in the system through the course of the fall to be really focusing on what that means for the next year and the next two years," he said.
Private and charter schools will also be asked to trim their costs, he added.
"We'll be talking with private schools, charter schools, as well as the traditional public system. Any place that gets assistance from the public purse has to be part of the solution in terms of ... how do we do this more effectively."
The education minister suggested using the Internet instead of traditional textbooks may be one way to save money.