Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta to Legislate Deal for Teachers after Fails to Get Unanimous Support

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta to Legislate Deal for Teachers after Fails to Get Unanimous Support

Article excerpt

Alberta to legislate new deal for teachers

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EDMONTON - The Alberta government is bringing in legislation to implement a new labour deal for its 40,000 teachers.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson says the move is necessary given that a majority of teachers and school boards have ratified the framework deal and that legislation is the only way to overcome the opposition of a few holdouts.

"I'm doing what I have to do to get a deal across the finish line," Johnson told reporters Monday.

"The alternative is to let the deal collapse because as of tonight the deal fails if we don't have everybody on board, and we don't have everybody on board."

He said it didn't make sense to take the issue back to all boards and union locals rather than push through one that currently has 97 per cent support.

"It's time that we put the students first and make sure we've got that stability and that we don't put parents and those committees through any kind of potential disruption to classrooms," he said.

Bill 26, the Assurance for Students Act, is to be introduced in the legislature Tuesday.

It will implement the provisions of a deal reached March 15 by the province and the Alberta Teachers' Association.

The deal needed unanimous consent from the 62 boards and union locals by Monday to take effect.

The board in Stettler had also not agreed to it by late Monday afternoon.

Two union locals, in St. Albert and Elk Island, also declined to accept it.

Earlier Monday, the Calgary Board of Education, representing students in the public system, voted for the second time to reject the deal. The board is Alberta's largest, with 108,000 students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Board members have said they are unhappy with the contract because of possible unforeseen cash consequences, such as the cost of setting up boards to hear complaints from teachers on workload issues.

Other boards, even those that approved the pact, have complained the deal was made without the input from their umbrella organization, the Alberta School Boards Association. …

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