EDMONTON — A group representing Alberta prosecutors says an announcement by the provincial government to raise salaries and enter into negotiations to improve the justice system marks a "new chapter."
Last month, the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association sent a letter threatening job action to Premier Jason Kenney, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and Labour Minister Kaycee Madu. The group represents 380 prosecutors.
Its letter included demands to address "chronic underfunding" of the prosecution service, to hold meetings with senior government officials and to have a salary grid on par with Ontario and British Columbia. They also asked to be able to collectively bargain with the government.
Shandro announced Monday that the government had approved pay adjustments for prosecutors after an analysis of rates across the country showed their salaries are noticeably lower.
"Paying Alberta’s Crown prosecutors a market rate is critical to ensuring that we have the best and brightest on the job conducting criminal prosecutions on behalf of Albertans," Shandro said in a release.
Over the next few months, the government said it will also engage with the association on building a strong working relationship. Additional supports for prosecutors will be explored, including access to dedicated on-call mental health professionals who specialize in trauma and post-traumatic stress.
"This acknowledgment and commitment is truly groundbreaking. It is a substantial commitment, one that no other government in the over 50-year history of our association has made," said the group's president, Dallas Sopko.
"For this reason, a strike will not occur at this time. Instead, our association and our government will dedicate our efforts to work collectively in the best interests of all Albertans."
Sopko said prosecutors have been subjected to uncertainty and neglect for the last three decades.
"Fortunately, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in our prosecution service's history. The next six weeks should mark the end of decades of volatility in our service."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022.
— By Bill Graveland in Calgary
The Canadian Press