Nova Scotia teachers vote in favour of new three-year contract with salary increase

HALIFAX — Members of the union representing Nova Scotia’s 10,000 public school teachers have voted in favour of a contract agreement reached last month with the province.

In a ratification vote held Wednesday 91 per cent of Nova Scotia Teachers Union members voted 80.5 per cent in support of the deal.

Union president Ryan Lutes says that while the new agreement doesn’t address all the challenges faced by schools, it’s a fair deal and a “solid stepping stone to future progress."

The union says with compound interest the contract gives teachers a salary increase of 11.47 per cent over three years retroactive to Aug. 1, 2023, and offers substitute teachers an additional 12 per cent pay bump.

A tentative deal was reached during conciliation talks last month, and at one point Premier Tim Houston participated in those negotiations.

The talks began after the union received an overwhelming strike mandate from 98 per cent of its members who voted.

Education Minister Becky Druhan says the deal puts students "at the core of the education system."

“We’ve heard from teachers about how to improve classroom conditions and outcomes and are acting on a shared commitment to create great learning and great working environments," Druhan said in a news release.

Under the new deal substitute teachers will need eight fewer consecutive days to qualify as a full-time teacher, a move Lutes says will help address a teacher shortage.

“More work needs to be done to fix the retention and recruitment crisis facing our public schools, but providing substitutes with a more competitive salary is a step in the right direction,” Lutes says in a news release.

The agreement also includes an increase to the amount of time teachers are given for marking and preparation.

Meanwhile, the number of school counsellors across the province will be increased, and the province has guaranteed that neither class sizes nor daily hours of instruction will grow under this contract.

The union also says it will continue to work with the province to address school violence.

The previous teachers’ contract expired on July 31, 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2024

The Canadian Press