Teacher Welfare Committee

    

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WORTH KNOWING

Alberta Government Revenues

Sometimes it seems like Alberta is perpetually in a fiscal crisis, and we do have one of the most volatile revenue streams amongst Canadian provinces. This results in unpredictable spending cycles.

The MacKinnon Report repeatedly compared Alberta to British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The comparisons focused entirely on expenditures and ignored revenues. Any sound fiscal analysis needs to consider revenues and the volatility of provincial revenues. The graph below shows revenue per capita across Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Alberta’s revenue is much more volatile than revenue in the other provinces.

Alberta’s resource revenue as a share of total revenue is also the highest among these four provinces. In the table below, you can see the share of resource revenue in total revenue of the four provinces. It should be pointed out that in 2015 and 2016, when Alberta’s resource revenue as a share of total revenue fell below 10 per cent, it was not that other revenue sources increased but rather that resource revenue declined so drastically.

 

Drawing such a large share of our provincial revenue from a volatile source such as resources, means that our provincial revenues will be highly volatile. The graph below shows the variance in revenue growth for each province from 2008 to 2018. Alberta’s revenue growth is 8.5 times more volatile than British Columbia’s, 15 times more volatile than Quebec’s, and 21.8 times more volatile than Ontario’s.

 

WORTH SHARING

Alberta’s fiscal crisis is due to our reliance on an erratic and unreliable revenue source. Alberta has one of the most volatile revenue streams amongst Canadian provinces. This results in unpredictable spending cycles. However, responsible and predictable spending is essential to maintaining Alberta’s world class public education system. #WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING

List of All Matters (LAM)

The first step in all rounds of central table bargaining is for the parties to the central process (the Association and the Teachers Employer Bargaining Association or TEBA) to negotiate which issues or matters are to be bargained at the central table, and which issues are local.  The definition of central matters is stipulated in the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA).

Criteria for determining central and local matters

9(1) For the purposes of determining whether a matter is a central matter or a local matter, a matter is a central matter if either of the following applies: 

(a) the matter could result in a reasonably significant impact on expenditures for one or more employers;

(b) the matter involves issues common to most of the parties to the collective agreements that can be addressed in central bargaining more appropriately than in local bargaining. 

(2) If neither subsection (1)(a) nor (b) applies, the matter is a local matter.

This definition drives most “big ticket” items towards the central table. However, the Association endeavours to strategically position issues on the lists to provide our greatest chance of success on those issues. We also maintain local bargaining on issues where local solutions are in the best interest of members.

Your Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) is comprised of teachers who have been elected to Provincial Executive Council (PEC) and supported by the staff in the bargaining program area (Teacher Welfare).

Heather McCaig is in her second term on CTBC and is in her third term as District Representative for Southeast Alberta. Heather started her career in 1996 at Irvine School in the Prairie Rose School Division teaching English and Drama. She then spent five years as a substitute teacher prior to landing at Crescent Heights High School in Medicine Hat School Division in 1999, where she has been ever since.

Heather has taught Social Studies and started Career and Technology Studies Leadership courses at the school. Currently, Heather teaches Leadership and English Language Learners.  

With over 20 years of leadership within the Association, Heather has served in a variety of capacities including; Local President, Economic Consultant, Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund Board member, as well as serving on a variety of different committees.

WORTH SHARING

Issues which could result in significant costs for employers are typically placed on the Central side of the List of All Matters (LAM). Maintaining local bargaining on issues where local solutions are in the best interests of members is a priority. #WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING

Who calls Teacher Welfare (TW)?

With 61 bargaining units across Alberta, teachers have different entitlements in their collective agreements. Teacher Welfare Staff Officers help members understand these entitlements, as well as offer support to ensure that the collective agreement is applied correctly. Teachers can contact Teacher Welfare year-round with questions or concerns. Every call is confidential and no action is taken unless the teacher authorizes it.

During the 2019 calendar year, TW responded to 5,305 inquiries from members.

Leaves

During 2019, 62 per cent of all calls to TW were questions regarding leaves. Teachers may need to take a leave from work for a variety of reasons. Some leave provisions are common to all 61 agreements, like maternity and parental leave. Other leave entitlements are specific to the school jurisdiction for which a teacher works, such as sick leave, family medical, or personal/private business leave. Sick leave and maternity leave often require individual consultation with the Association due to the specific circumstances of the teacher. 

 

As you can see from the graph above, most calls to TW are concerning sick leave or extended disability benefits (EDB). However, teachers experiencing any issues accessing leaves should report the situation to their TW Committee chair or TW directly. TW Staff Officers help teachers to understand the leave provisions available to them, so be sure to call prior to requesting the leave.

 Collective Agreement

The terms and conditions of practice and the compensation of teachers employed by school jurisdictions are established in collective agreements. Twenty-seven per cent of calls to TW were questions or concerns regarding specific areas of the collective agreement. TW Staff Officers help members understand the provisions that are available to them, as well as address maladministration of the collective agreement. In the case of a grievance, timelines must be adhered to. Teachers should call TW if they have any concerns with respect to collective agreement entitlements.

 

 

WORTH SHARING

Teacher Welfare staff responded to 2,434 teachers last year with questions and concerns related to their working conditions. Staff are available to help teachers year-round. Call 1-800-232-7208 to speak with a staff officer. #WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING

Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) - Preparing for List Bargaining

Under the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), central table bargaining is conducted by the Association on behalfof all active members. The Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) is made up of representatives from school divisions and government. 

The first step in central bargaining is to agree on what matters will be bargained at the central table and which are exclusively for local negotiations. This is called List Bargaining. In this round, the parties (TEBA and the Association) must open for list bargaining by the end of February.

Once List Bargaining is complete, negotiations begin on the actual issues of the central matters list. This is called Matters Bargaining.

Your CTBC is comprised of teachers who have been elected to Provincial Executive Council (PEC) and supported by the staff in the bargaining program area (Teacher Welfare).

 Darrin Bauer, Association Vice President, is in his third round of bargaining on CTBC.

 Darrin was elected vice-president in 2019 following four years of service as district representative for Edmonton McMurray. As district representative, he has served as a member of CTBC, Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) Committee, Pension Committee, Resolutions Committee and Teacher Welfare Services Committee.

Now in his 25th year of teaching, Darrin is currently at St Francis Xavier High School in Edmonton. He has taught grade five and high school social studies and is currently assigned as the off-campus Education Coordinator. Darrin also spent eight years teaching at Edmonton Catholic Schools’ Fresh Start Outreach High School, which provides students with an alternative to a high school classroom setting. 

Darrin’s assignments as vice-president of the Association include chairing the Resolutions Committee, serving as a member of the CTBC and the CTF Committee. He also acts as Provincial Executive Council liaison to the Religious and Moral Education Council and the Educational Technology Council.

WORTH SHARING

Your Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) is made up of Alberta teachers who have been elected to Provincial Executive Council (PEC) and is supported by your staff bargainers, communications staff and economist. #WEAREATA

Your CTBC is actively planning for the upcoming round of negotiations and how best to represent your issues at the bargaining table.#WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING

Financial Wellness

On 2020 01 11, the Teacher Welfare Services Committee received a presentation from Alberta School Employee Benefits Plan (ASEBP) on upcoming improvements to plans and programs. ASEBP has developed a communication campaign to connect Alberta teachers with ASEBP coverage to a host of financial wellness supports offered through the Employee Assistance Program (EFAP) in partnership with Homewood Health. This initiative will augment the Financial Wellness presentations available through your local.

Do you have ASEBP coverage and want to connect with confidential services to support financial wellness?

Assistance is just one confidential call away. Homewood Health has numerous, highly-trained staff available 24-7 to help you find the resources and tools you need to get your finances in tip-top shape. When you call, you’ll be asked a few questions to ensure you are directed to the best person for your situation.

 

English

1-800-663-1142

TTY: 1-888-384-1152

International (call collect): 604-689-1717

Français

1-866-398-9505

ATS : 1-866-433-3305

Appels internationaux (frais virés acceptés) : 514 875-0720

Do you have ASEBP coverage but prefer to work it out online? Register for a Homeweb.ca account to access handy online tools and resources like these:

WORTH SHARING

Teachers have access to a lot of support for their financial wellness. ASEBP through Homewood Health is one avenue for this assistance. #WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING

The First 20 Memoranda of Agreement (MoAs)

For each round of local bargaining, each bargaining unit creates an initial proposal based on the list of matters available for local bargaining and the needs of their members. Not all bargaining units seek the same improvements to their collective agreements and not all improvements are possible in each bargaining unit. Some bargaining units have issues that are specific to that school division. Here are some of the achievements of the first 20 MoAs in the 2018–2020 round of local bargaining.

Leaves

Half of the first 20 agreements have improvements in personal leave clauses. In these agreements, teachers have gained additional accumulation for personal leave days not used in a school year, and/or have been able to remove restrictions on accessing personal leave.

Professional Development (PD)

Many of the first 20 agreements include either establishing a teacher-controlled PD fund, increasing school division contributions to an existing fund or extending school division funding for PD into the future.

Other Compensation/Benefits

Teacher wellness is a topic of importance for many local tables. All bargaining units in the first 20 who were advancing the addition of a Wellness Spending Account to the Health Spending Account (HSA) now have the ability to allocate money from their HSAs to wellness. While wellness spending is a taxable benefit, it provides teachers with flexibility in using their accounts to best meet their health and wellness needs.

Part Time Teachers

Clauses are being added to collective agreements to protect part time teachers including language to ensure contiguous assignments as well as to limit how much FTE can be changed in a school year.

Substitute Teachers

In many of the settled bargaining units, substitute teachers will see increases in the half-day teaching assignment rate, typically from 50 to 60 per cent of the daily rate. Professional development for substitute teachers is also improving. Some of the agreements are adding access to paid days for substitute teachers attending professional development days. Language is also being added for cancellation of assignment, guaranteeing that, if the substitute job isn’t cancelled within a certain window of time, the substitute teacher will still receive pay to attend work that day.

School Leaders

Several of the first 20 agreements include an addition of lieu days for school leaders, including principals and vice/assistant principals. There is also improvement in compensation for travel, as well as red circling clauses to protect an administrator’s allowance for a specified period of time in the case of an involuntary transfer.

WORTH SHARING

Despite the tough fiscal environment for many school divisions, local bargaining is making gains for teachers. This local round of bargaining started in June 2019. #WEAREATA

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WORTH KNOWING

What Does Two More Years of Zero Per Cent Increase Mean to our Purchasing Power?

The salary arbitration decision released 2019 01 10 means that teacher salary grids have gone up on average a total of 2.16 per cent in eight years.

Since 2011, the annual compound growth (assuming we received the same increase each of those years) in teachers’ salary has been 0.27 per cent, while inflation in Alberta has averaged 1.6 per cent. 

Since 2001, the annual compound growth in teachers’ salaries has been 2.05 per cent per year while inflation in Alberta has averaged 2.08 per cent per year during that time. 

 

WORTH SHARING

Teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation in the 2000s. Teachers have done their share. #WEAREATA

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WORTH DOING!

Salary Arbitration Update

  • The salary arbitration agreed to by teachers and the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) through the 2018–20 central table settlement and then delayed by Bill 9 was held November 14 and 18, 2019.
  • The Association was represented by legal counsel from Field Law LLP, Teacher Welfare staff officers and our staff economist (who was the Association’s expert witness on the state of the Alberta economy and teacher salaries).
  • We made our case for salary increases of three per cent in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 school years and TEBA made their case for a salary rollback of two per cent effective the date of the arbitration decision.
  • The Association vigorously countered TEBA’s request for a rollback pointing to the language in Letter of Understanding 6 in the Mediator’s Report which states as its first point: The only matters subject to arbitration shall be general increases to the salary grids.
  • While the arbitration panel stated that they would try to issue their decision as expeditiously as possible, we are now entirely in their hands.
  • It is not uncommon to wait two or more months for an arbitration decision and we do not expect to hear anything until mid-January at the earliest.
  • As soon as we have the decision we will release it to teachers.

WORTH KNOWING!

Employment

  • Hardly a day goes by without unemployment data making headlines.
  • In its simplest form, the unemployment rate is the number of people who are unemployed divided by the labour force.
  • The labour force is made up of people who are employed and those who count as being unemployed (a person who is actively seeking work and is available for work).
  • So why does this matter? The unemployment rate can go up even when there are more people working.

·         If the number of people who count as unemployed increases by the same rate as the number of employed people, then even though more people are working, the unemployment rate remains unchanged. 

·         There is an increase in the number of people who count as being unemployed if people who had previously stopped looking for work start looking again or there is in-migration.

·         In Alberta we have seen some pretty high unemployment rates since 2014 and it is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom mood. However, when we look at employment, measured in persons employed, the picture gets a bit brighter. The graph below shows us the number of jobs in Alberta since 2012.

 

Source: Statistics Canada Table #14-10-0019

·         Yes, there is seasonal variation in the data. However, overall we are seeing a significant upward trend in the number of jobs.

 

WORTH SHARING!

·         There are 44,200 more jobs in Alberta in November 2019 than there were in 2014 before oil prices collapsed.

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WORTH DOING!

Financial Wellness Session for Teachers!

There is no doubt teachers, like many others, are facing uncertain economic times. That uncertainty may stem from the potential of job losses for themselves or family members, government’s position on salary reductions in the public sector or rumors of potential labour action in upcoming school years. The workshops to support financial wellness will be two-hour sessions presented by Capital Estate Planning and MNP. The sessions to be offered are as follows:

Financial Wellness 101—Presented by Capital Estate Planning and MNP Debt Group

Part 1 Introduction to Financial Wellness

•   Saving 101

•   How to get starting on a Savings Plan

•   Best Practices in Investing

•   Saving for an Emergency Fund

Part 2 Debt Solutions

•   Introduction to Debt Management

•   Debt Reduction Strategies

Interested Teachers should contact their Teacher Welfare Committee.

WORTH SHARING!

Alberta’s Fiscal Cliff

 ·         According to some politicians, news and social media articles, Alberta has an unmanageable and unheard of debt burden and we are about to go over a fiscal cliff. Really??

·         Alberta’s net debt is measured by the value of debt owed by the province minus the financial assets it owns. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the value of stuff being produced in Alberta in a given year.

·         Measuring debt as a percentage of GDP (Net Debt/GDP) indicates how much the province owes in relation to the province’s output. 

·         Alberta’s debt to GDP ratio in 2018 was 5.6 per cent and will be about 7.7 per cent for 2019.

Net debt

Fiscal Reference Tables

https://www.fin.gc.ca/frt-trf/2019/frt-trf-19-eng.xlsx

Population:

CANSIM table # 17-10-0060-01

Nominal GDP:

CANSIM table # 36-10-0221-01

GDP Growth Rates for 2019:

RBC Economics, Scotia Bank, TD Economics, CIBC Economics, Conference Board of Canada

·         The average of the other nine provinces was 31.7 per cent in 2018 and will be about 31.4 per cent in 2019.

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WORTH DOING!

From the beginning of the school year until the time schools break for Christmas, the 61 Association bargaining units (groups of teachers all employed by the same school board and covered by a collective agreement) have held a total of 57 general meetings open to all teachers in the bargaining unit. These meetings are called Bargaining Unit General Meetings (BUGMs) and are held to conduct the business of the bargaining unit such as approving initial proposals for local bargaining or ratifying memoranda of agreement. Due to the great number of recent events affecting teachers and the teaching profession, Teacher Welfare staff have also been providing Association Updates presentations at these meetings. We have noticed growing numbers of teachers at these meetings since the spring. Teachers are becoming more concerned about issues ranging from their pension contributions to curriculum reform without the involvement of the profession, to accusations of teachers’ politics entering classrooms. Teachers meeting together to share information and debate issues makes the teaching profession stronger.

 

WORTH SHARING!

Teachers’ pensions are safe and no pension rules are changing due to Bill 22 Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act. Retired teachers will not notice an effect from the passage of this legislation which amends theTeachers’ Pension Plan Act to mandate that the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund (ATRF) use the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) as its sole investment manager. While ATRF now must use AIMCo instead of managing investments in house (approximately half the assets) and using number of external managers, ATRF will still dictate how the funds are to be invested by AIMCo. This will be done through an Investment Management Agreement. Questions that remain for teachers and the Association are

·         Will AIMCo be able to achieve the expected investment results as ATRF traditionally has? If not contributions for current and future contributing teachers may increase.

·         Will AIMCo, in order to achieve those investment returns, take higher investment risks than ATRF traditionally has? If so, and there are losses, contributions for current and future contributing teachers may increase.

·         How “arm’s length is AIMCo from government and will there be political interference in how money managed by AIMCo is invested?

·         How can AIMCo, a legislated monopoly be more responsive to the pension plans they invest assets for?

·         How open is government to listening to the voices of teachers considering the speed this legislation was passed despite much opposition?

 Teachers need answers to these questions.

 

WORTH DOING!

Last week TW staff presented 20 grievances on central table collective agreement provisions to a meeting of the Teacher Employers’ Bargaining Association (TEBA) and Association grievance committee. This is an unprecedented number of grievances. We represented a teacher who was not getting paid for all her teaching experience and a teacher who was not properly accommodated when she returned from a medical leave. Teacher Welfare Committees (TWCs) are doing a great job of monitoring how the employers are interpreting the collective agreements. Enforcing collective agreements and ensuring teachers have the conditions that were negotiated strengthens the teaching profession.

 

WORTH SHARING!

From 2008/09 to 2011/12, through the collective agreements, teachers received salary increases equal to the increase in the Alberta Average Weekly Wage (AAWE). For those four years teachers received the average increase of all Albertans. Imagine! Teachers receiving average increases of all Albertans. We have been paying for it ever since.

In the 6 years from 2012/13 to 2017/18 teacher salary grids have increase by 2.16 per cent. If teachers had received that 2.16 per cent in equal annual amounts including the effects of compounding (the compounded average growth rate or CAGR) it would have been .43 per cent per year. By the way, inflation (measured by the Consumer Price Index or CPI) over that time was 1.4 per cent per year.