The school year is off to a good start in British Columbia as the province's teachers' union ratified the first negotiated agreement in more than a decade.
Last week, the teachers voted 93.4 per cent in favour of the deal that will see the teachers receive a 16-per-cent raise over five years. This increases the average teacher's salary to $64,000 this year, an increase of $4,000.
The deal also included a $4,000 signing bonus, part of the province's new negotiating tactic to encourage unions to sign new contracts before the old ones expire. A tentative agreement with the British Columbia Teachers' Federation was reached on June 30, the deadline for the signing bonus.
The deal is the first one achieved with teachers since province-wide bargaining began in 1994 and it covers 40,000 elementary and secondary school teachers.
"This first-ever agreement with teachers caps an unprecedented process for labour negotiations in British Columbia," said Finance Minister Carole Taylor.
The deal's 16-per-cent increase includes a 12-per-cent general wage increase, a two-per-cent allowance to offset teachers' union funding its own long-term disability program, a 0.5-per-cent incentive to encourage teachers to work in remote school districts and a 1.5-per-cent average wage increase to standardize salaries across the province.