Last week, the Government of Alberta announced in the Throne Speech and subsequently introduced for first reading, Bill 5, the Public Sector Employers Amendment Act, 2023.
The bill was characterized as addressing transparency and accountability in public sector compensation, particularly focusing on non-unionized public sector employees.
The bill does not affect teacher collective bargaining, centrally or at the local level, because teacher collective agreements are covered by separate legislation, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) that is distinct from the Public Sector Employers Act.
In fact, the bill will tend to make public sector bargaining in other sectors more closely resemble the process governing teacher bargaining in that public sector employers, including Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, and certain public agencies like Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission, will be required to formally provide their compensation proposals to Finance Minister for approval in advance of bargaining. This is already the case for other public sector entities and, indeed, for the Teacher Employer Bargaining Association.
It is important to note that the legislation does not give the Minister control over the outcome of collective bargaining, only the capacity to more explicitly coordinate the position of the employer in the bargaining process.
One promising aspect of the legislation is the provision in Bill 5 to repeal the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions Compensation Act (RABCCA), which was initially focused on regulating executive salaries. RABCCA has had the effect of placing the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund (ATRF) at a competitive disadvantage as it effectively placed arbitrary caps on the salaries of senior managers and specialists that were below market, making it difficult for ATRF to compete for talent with the private sector and even with public sector entities that were exempt from its application.
Although the proposed legislation in its current form would not affect teachers in Alberta, the Association will continue to monitor the bill as it makes its way through the legislature and ensure you are advised of any developments of interest or concern.
Critical illness insurance is not something you want to think about. But it is protection you want to have should you become critically ill and no longer able to work. Money is one of the last things you want to have to worry about if you are diagnosed with cancer or suffer a heart attack, but a serious illness can devastate your finances.
Optional critical illness insurance can help with your finances while you focus on your recovery. It is one of the most cost-effective things you will ever do to protect your savings.
This type of insurance can give you a tax-free payment if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Your contract will define which conditions are covered, but examples include cancer, heart attack and stroke.
Many assume that the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan or workplace benefit plans (such as the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan [ASEBP]) will cover many of the additional medical costs associated with a life-altering illness. However, these plans might not cover all the extra costs that come with managing a critical illness, such as home care, travel and accommodations, lost work wages, childcare, gas and meals. Over time, these expenses can add up.
Capital Estate Planning provides the Association’s Voluntary Benefits Program, a unique program built specifically for Alberta teachers and their families. This program includes critical illness insurance, group savings plans (RRSP, TFSA, RESP and RRIF), additional life insurance, and mortgage insurance.
Until November 30, 2023, teachers can apply for up to $50,000 in guaranteed acceptance critical illness insurance for themselves and up to $10,000 for their children. No medical questions are asked, and acceptance is guaranteed, regardless of medical history.
For more information, visit https://specialmarkets.ia.ca/applyata/home or call Capital Estate Planning at 780-463-6128 or 1-800-661-8755.
A critical illness can devastate your finances. When you are sick, money is the last thing you want to consider. Critical illness insurance can help cover your costs. Visit https://specialmarkets.ia.ca/applyata/home or call Capital Estate Planning at 780-463-6128 or 1‑800-661-8755. #WEAREATA
Effective September 1, 2022, Bill 85 amended the Education Act by adding a requirement to have updated criminal records and vulnerable sector checks. Section 2(7) of Bill 85 amended the Education Act by adding section 229.1, Criminal Record and Vulnerable Sector Checks. Bill 85 applies to those whose employment requires a certificate of qualification as a teacher, a leadership certificate or a superintendent leadership certificate. The legislation requires that the checks be completed by January 1, 2024 and must be updated every five years.
All school divisions must enforce the legislation and are required to ensure the results of those checks demonstrate that the teacher continues to be suitable for employment in their position. Failure to provide the necessary checks by the deadline imposed by the legislation, without some clear and demonstrable proof of the steps taken to obtain them, may result in a member encountering significant issues related to their employment relationship with their division. Teachers must comply with the legislation by providing the checks, even if their division has not offered a method or system to address the requirements.
Teachers do not have to incur the cost of the five-year criminal record check. Many divisions have worked with local law enforcement detachments to provide opportunities for members to obtain the checks. However, teachers who cannot provide the checks due to loss of the documents or failure to pick up or download them by the issuing agency’s deadline or starting new employment will be responsible for the cost of the initial check or its reissuance.
If you have a criminal conviction (or charge, subject to the terms of your employment contract) and failed to report this to your division, you should seek the advice of Teacher Employment Services (1-800-232-7208). In this situation, most members would benefit from proactively addressing the issue with their division rather than waiting until their updated criminal record and vulnerable sector check is submitted.
The deadline of January 1, 2024, is fast approaching for compliance with the Education Act to provide updated criminal and vulnerable sector checks. Teachers need to provide the checks to their division by the deadline to avoid potential issues. Contact Teacher Employment Services for more assistance. #WEAREATA
Teachers received a two per cent (2%) increase on September 1, 2023.
A teacher’s annual salary is based on years of education (as determined by the Teacher Qualifications Service) and years of experience (as determined by the teacher’s collective agreement). Click here to see your salary grid.
Teachers are paid according to the Education Act, which states that teachers are paid 1/200 for each day they work (with a few variations). Since funds are allocated to school divisions over 12 months, paying teachers 1/12 of their annual salary each month from September to August is easier for everyone to budget, including school divisions.
Due to the improvements to the salary grid, teachers must review their September pay statements to be certain that their pay has been adjusted correctly. Teachers should continue to review their pay statements at the end of every month, particularly if they are still moving up the salary grid and are expecting to earn an increment. If a teacher reviews their pay statement and it appears that they have not been paid correctly, it is their responsibility to contact their employer to resolve the discrepancy. If the teacher is not able to correct the error with the employer forthwith, the teacher must contact Teacher Employment Services (TES) so that the Association can provide support in a resolution. Delays in reporting an error in pay could result in a loss of income, so it is critical that every teacher closely scrutinize their pay statement.
1. For full-time contract teachers, the simplest way to check for an error is to multiply the amount listed on the pay statement as gross pay or total earnings by 12 and then compare that sum to the salary grid in the collective agreement.
2. For part-time teachers, confirm annual salary on the grid in the collective agreement, multiply that sum by the teacher's FTE (for example, 0.50 or 0.86 or 0.25) and divide by 12. This sum should be the gross pay or total earnings figure on the pay statement
3. For teachers in receipt of an allowance, the simplest way to check for an error is to multiply the amount listed on the pay statement as gross pay or total earnings by 12, subtract the annual allowance and compare that sum to the salary grid in the collective agreement.
It is also important to review the deductions to confirm they are correct. Maximum annual employee premiums for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance (EI) are reached partway through the year. Teachers often see an increase in net pay once those maximums are reached and are no longer deducted from monthly cheques.
Check your pay statement every month to ensure that your salary is correct. Review the deductions and make sure they are correct. Remember, you may reach maximum deductions for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance (EI) partway through the year. #WEAREATA
Are you considering retiring in the next 10 years? It’s a good idea to get your ducks in a row well in advance.
Attend an Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) online Pre-Retirement Workshop to start planning early. These sessions are helpful if you know your retirement date, but even if you don’t, you need to understand the retirement process, when you need to start filling out applications and how much money you will have during your retirement.
Lifestyle planning is also important. Will you travel? Will you participate in other retirement pastimes (such as golf, lawn bowling or pickleball)? You should have some insight into what lifestyle you would like to have when you stop teaching and how much that will cost.
This workshop will answer all your questions. Together, teachers and their pension partner will explore planning for retirement, the changing character of retirement and the process of making important decisions. You will learn about financial and lifestyle planning before, during and after retirement from a teacher’s perspective. The workshop will investigate various aspects of retiring, including building a financial plan, the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (pension plan), wills and estates, benefits, and lifestyle planning for a successful and rewarding retirement.
Choose one of the sessions below and watch for a link to register at https://teachers.ab.ca/events. Registration will be available approximately one month before each session.
Note that these are all-day sessions (9:00 am–3:00 pm).
Teachers in All Regions
Saturday, November 25, 2023
Saturday, February 3, 2024
Saturday, March 9, 2024
Urban Local Teachers
Edmonton Public Teachers only—Saturday, October 28, 2023
Calgary Catholic Teachers only—Saturday, December 2, 2023
Edmonton Catholic Teachers only—Saturday, January 13, 2024
Calgary Public Teachers only—Saturday, January 27, 2024
It’s your retirement. Ensure a smooth transition by becoming informed early. Attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop this school year. #WEAREATA
Updates from ATA Provincial