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Members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union gather outside the Royal Canadian Legion in Lower Sackville, N.S., as part of the Our Kids Can't Wait rally on April 10, 2024. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Teachers union agreement would raise wages, improve prep time

By Jacob Moore May 2, 2024 | 5:30 PM

The new collective agreement between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government improves wages for teachers and substitutes, along with other changes.

Wages for teachers would increase a total of 11.47 per cent until August 2025, according to documents obtained by the Acadia Broadcasting newsroom.

Members of the union still have to vote to ratify the agreement on May 22.

The proposed agreements was finalized on April 26, after months of bargaining and after 98 per cent of teachers voted in favour of a strike mandate.

The union’s last deal with the government expired in 2023.

Wage increases

In the new agreement, all teacher wages would go up 2.5 per cent ahead of the additional adjustments.

Teachers who worked in August, 2023, would get a retroactive wage increase of 3 per cent.

On July 31, 2024, teacher wages would go up by 0.5 per cent and on August 1 wages would go up by another 3 per cent.

On August 1, 2025, teacher wages would go up by 2 per cent.

Teachers on the first level of the pay scale for the current agreement make $57,112 a year. Teachers on the first level of the pay scale would make about $60,296 a year with these changes.

On August 1, level one teachers would make about $62,415. After August 1, 2025, level one teachers would make about $63,663.

Substitute teachers

Substitute teachers are also getting a raise.

They currently make about 67 per cent of a full-time teacher’s daily wage, which is about $196 a day.

Under the new agreement, they would make 75 per cent of a full-time teacher’s daily wage, which would be about $231 a day.

The agreement also changes how many consecutive days a substitute must replace the same teacher before the substitute gets full-time pay.

Under the current agreement, it takes 18 days before they get the same pay as full-time teachers.

Under the proposed agreement, substitutes would only have to work 10. The upgraded pay would be retroactive from the time the substitute started filling in.

Preparation time

Teachers can currently use a minimum of 12.5 per cent of class time, averaged throughout the year, to prepare lessons and grade work. In the new agreement, teachers would have 15 per cent of class time for prep and marking, this time averaged over the semester or term, not the whole year.

Blocks are a minimum of 15 minutes, but the new agreement would give teachers a minimum of 30 minutes.

Teachers would now be able to bank missed prep time, up to 150 minutes. If a teacher banks that much time, they could schedule to mark for half a day, the agreement says.

Adding to prep and marking time, teachers would have to work from home on snow days, or other days the school is closed because of weather.

All the regional education centres would get more money for professional development, as well.

Violence prevention

The agreement says, “… [H]aving appropriate resources to provide mental services is vital for students and the prevention of violence.”

Schools would require a full-time counsellor or similar alternative, unless the school has less than 150 students, where the counsellor may also work as a teacher. Existing numbers of counsellors would not be reduced.

The province would have to fulfill those obligations by July 31, 2026, under the proposed agreement.

Teacher retention

A new committee to address teacher recruitment and retention would be created under the new agreement and give recommendations to the province and the teachers union within a year of the agreement signing.